April is National Heartworm Awareness Month

3 Tips to Protect your Pet from Heartworms

1. Preventative Medicine

The American Heartworm Society and many veterinarians recommend year-round preventative medication.

Medications can be administered orally or topically, and prevention is far more effective and less costly than treatment if your dog is diagnosed with heartworm. But, remember that preventives are not used to kill the adult worm and some can cause severe problems if given to animals with adult heartworms. You should follow the recommendations of your veterinarian prior to giving the preventive product.

2. Keep Your Home & Yard Mosquito Free

It may not be top of mind, but mosquitos can also be a threat in and around your own home. Mosquitoes can breed in small amounts of stagnant water, which can be found in flowerpots, empty containers left outside (buckets, toys), rain gutters, and low-lying areas in the yard. You may want to consider using a pet-friendly insecticide your yard. You can also harness the power of plants by planting some of this common mosquito repelling herbs; basil, catnip, lemon balm, or rosemary.

Mosquitoes all across the country can carry heartworm, which means one bite from an infected mosquito can result in heartworm disease in your dog. There is no way to know whether a mosquito is infected, and it often takes several months for heartworm symptoms to appear in dogs.

3. Test Yearly

Heartworms mature after six months and can live in your dog’s body for seven years, constantly producing offspring. After about a year, a dog may harbor hundreds of these worms, although the average is 15. The worms cause inflammation and damage to the heart, arteries, and lungs.

The recommendation from the American Heartworm Society is to have all dogs tested for heartworm every 12 months, even those already on heartworm preventative medication.

Have your veterinarian test your dog for heartworm during your annual visit.