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Your Heartworm FAQs

May 1, 2019

There are many parasitic worms out there that can harm our animal companions, but heartworms are some of the most dangerous. A heartworm infestation can even prove deadly if not dealt with! Here, your Tipp City, OH veterinarian answers some frequently asked questions.

How Do Pets Contract Heartworms?

Heartworms are spread through mosquitoes. Inside a mosquito, immature forms of the heartworm known as microfilariae develop into larvae. When the infected mosquito bites your pet, those larvae are transmitted into the host, where they mature into adult worms and migrate through bodily tissues toward the heart.

How is Heartworm Prevented?

Heartworm infestations are prevented by giving your pet a heartworm preventative medication, which kills of the larval form of the pests before they can mature into adult worms. These medications are most often given to your pet on a monthly basis. In addition to preventative medications, regular heartworm testing should be performed to make sure your pet is heartworm-free.

It’s also a good idea to take steps at home to make your environment less hospitable to mosquitoes, thereby decreasing the risk of heartworm transmission. Keep tall grass and shrubbery trimmed back; don’t leave garbage around your yard; get rid of sources of standing water, like empty pots or old tires, as mosquitoes like to breed in these areas.

Is Heartworm Only a Warm-Weather Problem?

While mosquitoes thrive during the warmest months, meaning that heartworm is more common during the summer, it’s not just a warm-weather problem. Mosquitoes may continue to be active into the autumn months when temperatures dip, and can still bite your animal companion. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Additionally, heartworm preventatives also protect against other types of worms and intestinal parasites in addition to heartworms themselves. For this reason, keeping your pet on their heartworm preventative even during cooler months is a good way to ensure their health.

Is My Cat at Risk?

Dogs are the pets most commonly associated with heartworm, but our feline friends are also at risk. Cats have more of a natural resistance to heartworm, but infestations can still occur, often with serious results. Talk to your veterinarian to learn more about how heartworm affects cats, and about getting your feline companion outfitted with a heartworm medication to keep her safe.

Does your pet need veterinary attention? We’re here for you. Make an appointment today to see your Tipp City, OH vet.