A Season of Mosquitos – Prevent Heartworm in Your Dogs & Cats

dog bitten by mosquitos

*CJ scratches at his neck*

Whiskers: Itchy, are we?

CJ: It’s all this rain. The mosquitos have been relentless.

Whiskers: *looks down at CJ from the counter* Could be worms.

Rex: Ew, don’t give them to me, CJ!

CJ: Don’t be silly, Rex. I can’t pass them to you or anyone else for that matter. Only mosquitos can spread heartworms. Besides, my humans give me heartworm prevention.

Whiskers: You both should be worried. Heartworm can cause several issues among dogs, such as severe lung disease, heart failure, various organ damage, and in a worst-case scenario: death.

Rex: *shoots up in panic and turns to CJ* I’ve been outside everyday this summer! What if I have those gross worms living inside me right now?!

CJ: Whiskers, stop scaring Rex. And Rex, you know your humans take you to get tested every year.

Rex: More vet visits and needles… another reason to dislike mosquitos and heartworm. You know what? I won’t go outside anymore. Then I can avoid those mosquitos for sure.

CJ: You do not need to be afraid to go outside. Your humans take the necessary preventative methods just as mine do. Many products for dogs are FDA-approved and prescribed by your vet. What do you think the monthly pills given to you are?

Rex: I don’t take any pills.

CJ: Yes, you do. What do you think is inside the cheese?

Rex: *looks at CJ with wide, sad eyes* Those aren’t just treats? Why would they trick me like that? What else have they been lying to be about?!

CJ: Stop the spiral and back it up a step. You don’t even chew it. You swallow it whole, so does it really matter? Besides, there is a chewable tablet you could take, but I’ve seen you spit those right out. There’s also a topical liquid option, but that means no people food for you. Would you rather be given a cheesy treat every month or have a cream spread all over your body once a month?

Rex: Fine. I’ll take the cheese.

CJ: Ya know what, Rex? Bulverde Animal Hospital also offers ProHeart. It’s an injection that’s used to prevent heartworms. They offer a 6-month and a 12-month option. Maybe that’s something you can start getting! Less cheese, but also less pills!

Rex: Hmmm I like that idea. Once and done equals less stress for me!

Whiskers: So dramatic. Thank goodness I’m a cat.

CJ: Cats can get heartworms, too.

Whisker: Hmmmm, my exposure and risk is different. I’ll explain. *Indicates to chart*

CJ: Hold on. You just happen to have a visual aid on-hand?

Whiskers: To show why cats are superior to dogs? Of course. Now pay attention.

The Difference Between Heartworm Disease in Dogs and Cats

* Highly susceptible to infection
* Natural host for heartworms to thrive
* Average lifespan of heartworms is 5 to 7 years
* Average amount of worms found are 15 (range is 1 to 150)
* FDA-approved drug treatments available (treatment is potentially toxic and can cause complications)
* Less susceptible to infection
* Not a natural host of heartworm
* Average lifespan of heartworms is 2 to 4 years
* Average amount of worms found are 1 or 2
* Harder to detect disease
* Symptoms can mimic many other cat diseases
* No FDA-approved drug to treat heartworms

Rex: I think I want to be a cat now.

CJ: Rex, like I said earlier, prevention is the best form of treatment, and our owners are very attentive of having us tested every 12 months and properly maintaining our monthly heartworm preventatives. They also listen to our vet and learn about the high-risk environments where heartworm is more common. At the end of the day, you should place more faith in what your vet recommends than Whiskers.

Whiskers: CJ, you’re no fun.

Learn more about the specifics of heartworms disease in dogs and cats through the helpful facts provided by the FDA. If you have any specific questions about heartworms and your beloved pet, contact Bulverde Animal Hospital and we will help you find the right prevention plan for your dog or cat.

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