Did you know that even if your pets are inside most of the day, they are still vulnerable to mosquito bites when they go out for potty breaks and walks? Mosquitos are most active at dusk and dawn and are stealthy at getting into homes without humans detecting their whereabouts. With each bite from a mosquito, your pet runs the risk of becoming infected with heartworms.
Heartworm disease is all too common, very serious and potentially fatal. The parasitic worms actually live in the animal’s heart and lungs. It is not unusual to have 30 or more worms living in the pet’s heart and lung area. Sadly, the symptoms often do not present themselves until the heartworm disease is advanced.
Dog’s symptoms include a mild but persistent cough, reduced appetite, weight loss, and fatigue after moderate exercise. Cats can also get heartworms. The symptoms for cats may be very nonspecific, including gagging,vomiting, rapid or difficulty breathing, weight loss and lethargy. We can run a simple in house blood test to diagnose whether your pets are positive for heart worms or not.
Florida and the entire southeast area is an extremely high-risk area for the spread of heartworms throughout the entire year. That is why it is imperative to keep pets current on their heartworm prevention every month. Animals are infected with heartworms from the bites of mosquitos. And unfortunately, Florida has mosquitos year round as it never gets cold enough to kill the pesky parasites.
Luckily, heartworms are easily prevented in both dogs and cats. We carry many forms of heartworm prevention to suit every pet’s needs. We have once-a-month pills, chews and topicals. We sell preventatives that are strictly for heartworms as well as products that are a combination of flea and heartworm prevention. There is not a product that prevents fleas, ticks and heartworms all at the same time – yet!
Just like human medicine, prevention is far less expensive than treatment. The pill can cost as little as $5.00 a month, per pet, depending on the pet’s weight and which product you choose. Without prevention, your pet’s susceptibility to heartworms is very high. This is why year-round prevention is an absolute must.
The other reason that it is important to be diligent with your pet’s heartworm prevention is that currently the medicine used to treat heartworms in dogs is not available from the manufacturer. We have no idea when the product will be available again. Therefore, we don’t have a a way to treat the disease in dogs. There still isn’t an approved method of heartworm treatment for cats.
Keeping your pets indoors is not an effective method of preventing heartworm disease. As mentioned before mosquitos find their way into many clean/maintained homes, resulting in many “indoor only” animals testing positive for heartworm disease. You can try to reduce the mosquitos in your immediate area by getting rid of any standing water to prevent mosquito larvae from maturing. Look around your property for flower pots, bowls, even tires with stagnant water sitting in them. However, this may be futile as we obviously live in a swamp. Being Floridians we are surrounded by multitudes of water sources.
We urge you to not use human insect repellents containing DEET on your pets. If you ever have a question about what you can or can not use on your pet give us a call, (904) 744-7206. We are happy to help keep your pets safe. ~Angela