Heartworm Misconceptions and Guidelines for Prevention

Most pet owners would tell you that keeping their pets safe is one of the most important priorities in their personal lives. However, sometimes that’s easier said than done. For instance — it takes nothing more than a tiny mosquito to permanently jeopardize your pets. If the insect carries heartworm larvae and it bites your pet, the situation can lead to a fatal disease without proper treatment.

Precisely because this is such a serious issue there are quite a few myths and misconceptions out there — and some of them can be just as dangerous as the disease itself. With this in mind, we’ll debunk some of the most oft-repeated myths related to heartworm, and give you a couple of tips for prevention along the way.

It’s Not Exclusive To Dogs

There are plenty of cases of dogs contracting the heartworm parasite. Unfortunately, though, just because your pet companion isn’t canine doesn’t mean they’re safe from heartworm. In fact, both ferrets and cats can contract it as well. Pets can infect humans with some diseases but humans rarely become the hosts of heartworm and the manifestation, in that case, is different since larvae die before they mature. 

Most animal health authorities recommend taking precautions for this animal disease prevention when it comes to these three animal species - dogs, ferrets, and cats. 

That being said, if they do become heartworm hosts, cats are routinely more resistant compared to canines. Still, they can be infected, and the results can still be dangerous in the case of your particular cat — which is all you need to know in order to exercise caution.

It’s also important to note that, while heartworms reach adulthood in cats as well, they’re also more likely to die before maturity in cats than in dogs. Prevention is crucial here, and we cannot overstate that — seeing there is no drug treatment for heartworm in cats that’s completely safe.

Indoor Pets Are At Danger As Well

Many people believe that their pets are not in danger of contracting the parasite simply because they’re indoor animals. Remember — the disease is primarily transmitted by mosquito bites. And these pesky insects can just as easily find their way inside your home as they can outside.

All it takes is a single bite; so there is no error for margin. For instance, studies indicate that about 25% of pets that have heartworms are actually indoor pets. Even if your animal pals only take short walks outside for their “bathroom needs”, they can still get bitten both inside and outside.

It’s Not Only A Summer Problem

Sure, mosquitos are one of the biggest summer nuisances nature has ever thrown at us. But depending on your regional climate, the season of active mosquitos may vary wildly. And with the possibility of climate change, you may expect it fluctuating in your area too. Mosquitos tend to appear once the local temperature goes above 50 degrees. As the temperatures drop, their activity levels taper off as well. Still, mosquitos can become active earlier than you anticipate — even in 40-degree weather. Many veterinarians have faced such issues due to pet owners not being careful enough.

Plus, mosquitos are known to look for protected places where they feel warmer, like decks or crawl areas. They can easily survive in these hideouts even after fall. That’s why it’s recommended to exercise heartworm prevention throughout the entire year, just to be safe.

Prevention Isn’t Difficult Or Costly

There are plenty of dog owners who adore their pets, but simply don’t have the knowledge required to exercise proper prevention for diseases and parasites like heartworm. Many of them feel like they don’t have the time to put into such work — when, in reality, it takes very little effort to stop such things from happening.

In the specific case of this disease, the prevention is literally cheaper than the treatment. Monthly prevention is definitely better in terms of cost-effectiveness, and it will certainly result in a better quality of life for your pet. This is definitely an investment, but one that pays off. Generally, monthly prevention plans set you back nothing more than a single takeaway order, depending on the drugs involved.

On the other hand, treatment is quite expensive — it goes up to being ten times more expensive than the yearly expense for prevention. And not only is prevention affordable, but it’s also quite practical as well — and adaptable to your pet’s lifestyle.

Most pets love treats, so there is medication in the form of chewables for both cats and dogs. On the other hand, there is also a bi-annual treatment option that involves going to the vet; your furry pal gets their shots twice a year, and you’re all set.

Prevention and Medication

Animal pharmaceutical firms produce many types of prevention drugs for heartworm disease. These kinds of preventives have, unlike the treatment for already developed heartworm disease, proven to be utterly safe for the overall health of your dogs.

If your pet gets their prevention shots or medicine in other forms, they are sure to be protected. Even if a mosquito carrying dangerous larvae bites them, the parasite will never finish its reproductive cycle. The medicine is guaranteed to kill the larvae in their infancy.

There are also mosquito repellents, which completely prevent the bites from ever occurring. You can use these to produce a specific odor around your pet; one that will keep any potentially dangerous insects away.

It’s also important to perform regular check-ups. If your dog wasn’t adequately protected before and the disease does develop, discovering it as soon as possible will make the treatment more efficient.

These parasites need multiple months to become deadly and mature, so you can still save your pet if you act in a timely manner. If you take all of the necessary precautions, you and your pet will be completely safe from this nasty parasite — all it takes is some forethought and willingness.

And that’s a wrap! We hope this brief guide was of use to you and that have clarified at least a few misconceptions. Stay safe and have a good one, guys!

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