When it comes to medical problems affecting our pets, there are many stories and experiences that can leave even the most experienced owner struggling to decipher what is true and accurate, and what is simply hearsay. As a caring and responsible owner, you can’t afford to take chances with the health of your beloved animal.
Heartworms are a parasitic infection affecting some domestic animals in the United States. Spread via mosquitos, it is very easily contracted, and if not treated promptly, could have disastrous consequences for your pet. To help you understand more about this deadly disease, we have put together the following list of some of the most common myths surrounding heartworms, and given you the facts that you really need to know.
Myth: Heartworm disease is rarely life-threatening.
Fact: Left untreated, adult worms will congest your pet’s heart and lungs, compromising her breathing and blocking the flow of blood around her body. This can cause respiratory and cardiac distress, and in the vast majority of cases, animals with severe heartworm disease will not survive. Even if your pet is treated and does survive, she may be left with permanent and irreversible damage that could compromise her quality of life.
Myth: Your pet can’t contract heartworms during the winter.
Fact: While mosquitos are undoubtedly more prevalent during the summer months, the climate conditions across the United States vary widely and this means that some states may see mosquitos present throughout most of the year. In fact, it is not unheard of for mosquitos to still be active in temperatures of just 40°F.
Myth: Heartworm disease does not affect pets living in dry climates.
Fact: Mosquitos aren’t deterred by challenging climates. These extremely adaptable insects will seek out small sources of standing or fresh water, which provide perfect places for them to breed when the rest of the landscape is dry.
Myth: If your dog contracts heartworms, he can pass them to other animals and humans in your home.
Fact: Heartworms can only be contracted through a bite from an infected mosquito. If one animal in your household has heartworms, others are not in any increased danger.
Myth: Only dogs can be affected by heartworms.
Fact: While dogs are more natural hosts for heartworms and are the most at risk of contracting the parasites, cats and ferrets are also vulnerable. Therefore, veterinarians recommend that all three species are given year-round protection using preventative medications.
Myth: If my cat is an indoor feline, she won’t be at risk of heartworms.
Fact: Although some cats spend all their time indoors, if you ever open a window or door there is a chance that an infected mosquito can get inside. It takes just one bite for your pet to get infected, so it really isn’t worth taking any risks.
Myth: Preventative heartworm treatment is only necessary in the summer months.
Fact: As we have discovered, infected mosquitos live all year round. Therefore, it is essential that your animal is protected from heartworms 365 days of the year.
Myth: If you miss a dose of heartworm preventive treatment, it isn’t any real cause for concern.
Fact: Veterinarians put together preventative medication schedules for a reason. Even a small gap in your pet’s protection from heartworms – or any other infectious disease – could leave her vulnerable to infection. It is essential that you adhere strictly to the cycle recommended by our veterinarian.
Myth: The cost of heartworm preventative medication is too expensive.
Fact: One of the main things that puts owners off of investing in preventive treatment is the cost. However, protective drugs are now relatively affordable, and a very valuable investment in the health of your furbaby. Veterinarians agree that the cost of treating an animal who has been diagnosed with heartworms is around ten times higher than the cost of the preventive treatment.
Myth: It is too difficult to effectively administer heartworm preventive medication.
Fact: There are now more types of preventive treatment than ever before, including chewable tablets and spot-on treatments that must be given monthly, to bi-annual injections. There really is no excuse to not protect your pet from this deadly disease.
If you have further questions about the myths surrounding heartworms and heartworm prevention, our knowledgeable team would be happy to set the record straight. We have extensive experience in providing comprehensive protective care to our clients and help educate their owners so that they too can help provide the best possible care to their furry, feathered or scaly family member. Please drop by our Kerrville TX clinic, email the team or give us a call today.