Adding a New Puppy to Your Family

It's That Time Of Year To Protect Your Pet Against Heartworm

by Arttu Kari

Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal disease in dogs, cats, ferrets, and other species, including wolves, foxes, coyotes, and even humans. Heartworms are 12-inch long worms that can live in the blood vessels of the affected, as well as in the heart and lungs. This can result in heart failure and lung disease without early intervention.

Some ways to help protect your pet against heartworm include:

Medication. Your vet will be able to prescribe heartworm medication that will kill the parasitic heartworm while it is still in the larvae stage, before they grown into full-size worms. Your vet, someone from a place like the Animal House Veterinary Hospital, will first test for heartworm before administering and prescribing the right medication to treat your pet.

Limit exposure. Since heartworm is spread and transmitted by a specific type of mosquito that has bitten a pet that is infected, limiting your pet's exposure to the mosquito can prevent heartworm. This includes keeping your pet inside during warmer weather, as this is when mosquitoes thrive and prosper. Don't walk or take your pet to damp, swampy areas where mosquitoes are more populated.

Essential oils. Since your pet needs to be bitten by a mosquito hosting heartworm, use essential oils to deter the pests from coming near your pet. Some scents that will turn-off mosquitoes and keep them away from your dog or cat include:

  • Basil.
  • Lemon.
  • Lavender.
  • Cedar.
  • Catnip.
  • Citronella.

Make sure that the essential oils that you are using are deemed safe for pets and also be careful that your pet doesn't ingest or swallow the oils that you choose. Many are manufactured with grain alcohol, which can be toxic for pets.

If your pet is diagnosed with heartworm, they will be put on one of two possible regimens to get rid of the parasites. During this treatment, be vigilant in making sure that your pet follows doctor's orders. Some typical instructions for infected pets include:

  • Limit physical exercise. Since heartworms can wrap around the lungs and heart, don't let your pet get too active while they are being treated.
  • Get a second opinion. This doesn't necessarily mean that you need a second veterinary provider, but instead, ask your vet to administer a second, different test to make sure.
  • Test your pet again in six months. When the treatment regimen has been completed, don't become complacent. Have another heartworm test in six months to ensure a clean bill of health from your vet.

Heartworm is a heartbreaking condition that frequently results in death. Make sure that your pet is protected against heartworm by visiting your veterinary provider and testing your pet annually. Keep these tips in mind to keep your pet safe from heartworm this season!