Heartworm Prevention Is Critical

Heartworm prevention, along with regular immunizations and wellness examinations, is an important aspect of keeping your pet healthy and disease-free. Because heartworm disease has been diagnosed in every U.S. state and mosquitoes do not hibernate over the winter, keeping your four-legged buddy on heartworm prevention all year is critical.

The life cycle of the heartworm

Heartworms can infect any mammal, although these parasites favor canine hosts. When a mosquito attacks an infected animal, microfilariae, or heartworm larvae (L1), are ingested from the blood vessels. The larvae are stimulated to molt to the L2 stage by the mosquito’s gastric fluids, after which they travel to the mosquito’s salivary glands and molt to infective L3 larvae. When the mosquito feeds, the L3 larvae swim beneath the pet’s skin. The larvae molt through two phases as they migrate toward the pet’s heart, eventually arriving in the main pulmonary artery, where they mature and multiply.

The Mechanism of Heartworm Prevention

The mosquito travels through several larval stages within the pet, but only two of them are vulnerable to heartworm prevention. Once heartworm larvae reach juvenile or adult stages, preventives no longer work and they must be treated with an arsenic-containing medicine, which is both expensive and harsh.

Giving your pet a monthly heartworm preventative, whether it’s an oral chewable or a topical liquid, successfully kills off the heartworm larvae before they mature into a more hardy life stage. Because immature larvae can molt into adults in as little as 51 days, monthly preventive that prevents the life cycle from progressing and harming your pet is crucial. Injections with a gradual release mechanism can also be given every 6 or 12 months to ensure that heartworm larvae are eliminated before they molt. While heartworm prevention does not prevent mosquito bites or the transmission of heartworm larvae, it does prevent life-threatening heartworm illness.

Investigate heartworm prevention alternatives for your pet in honor of National Heartworm Awareness Month. Call us to discuss the heartworm preventive that will best protect your four-legged friend from sickness.