Heartworm prevention is one of the most common parts of a complete wellness plan for your pet. There are many ways to go about this process, and it can be a great way to ensure your pet is healthy and parasite-free season after season.
Making sure to talk to your veterinarian about prevention strategies is your best avenue when doing your initial research. Treating an infestation once well-established can be complicated, costly, and uncomfortable for your pet. Therefore, your vet can help to ensure you get only the safest and most effective prevention methods. There are a number of options available, some of which are not recommended due to a high risk of further complications and side effects. Let’s have a look at some of the best ways to go about preventing heartworm in your pet.
Heartworm is passed to your pet through mosquitos. During peak season (typically mid to late-summer) a mosquito can pick up the parasite larvae when they draw blood from an infected animal. If it then pierces your pet shortly after the incubation period has passed, it can transfer these live larvae to your unassuming pet. Once in the blood, the larvae will find a home in your pet’s heart, surrounding vessels, and lungs. They then begin reproducing creating more and more over time.
Scheduled Blood Tests
The first step in heartworm prevention is annual blood testing performed by your veterinarian. If you live in a particularly warm, humid, temperate area prone to heartworm, testing twice per year may be advisable. This helps to make sure that your pet does not have any sign of circulating microfilariae – a sure sign of infestation. If detected early, an inexpensive treatment protocol can be provided.
Because mosquitos are the primary culprit in transmitting heartworm to your pet, preventing mosquitos can be a great first line of defense. Not all pet owners are quick to use preventive medication as the first line of defense. Using a pet-friendly mosquito repellant can help to make sure the pesky parasite parade stays out of your pet’s bloodstream. Mosquitos detest various essential oils like lavender, rosemary, and cedar.
One of the most common preventive approaches is using special medication designed specifically for controlling heartworm. These medications are not true ‘prevention,’ so to speak, but are very effective at controlling an infestation. Oral and topical applications work by killing off any of the active microfilariae and worms in the system – preventing further reproduction.
Heartworm preventives also carry the benefit of preventing other infestations as well. Most preventives kill adult fleas, roundworm, hookworm, and whipworms as well as treating sarcoptic mange.
Some pet owners are averse to using preventives. They come with the risk of various side effects that need to be considered. Even so, the risk of heartworm disease can be more problematic and be worth preventing in advance. Before making a decision as to what you think is best for your pet, make sure to speak to your veterinarian about the risks and benefits of preventing heartworm through a regular dose of preventive medication.
The benefits of heartworm prevention for your pets far outweigh the risks of contracting a heartworm infestation. Through consultation with your veterinarian, you can come up with a prevention plan that can help to ensure your pet is heartworm-free this season. Taking preventive action now can make a big difference in the long run. Contact our vet today and schedule a visit. It can mean the difference between a healthy pet and a pet in need of medical attention down the road.