Updated: Apr 16, 2022
Pets rely on their owners to look out for their well-being. Many serious health issues can afflict pets, and parasites are a common cause of illness.
Of all the parasitic worms that dogs and cats may attract, heartworms are the most concerning. Heartworm disease can result in lung and heart failure, organ damage, and potentially death. Heartworm disease is caused by a blood-borne parasite known as Dirofilariaimmitis. It is spread through the bite of a mosquito. Dogs are often the host of choice. The parasites infect the dog, mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring all while living inside the animal. Cats are atypical hosts for heartworms, and most worms in cats do not survive the adult stage.
While heartworm infection has been reported in all 50 states, it is common along the Atlantic coast...which includes Flagler. Once inside a new host, it takes approximately six months for the larvae to develop into mature adult heartworms. Once mature, heartworms can survive up to seven years in dogs and three years in cats. Each mosquito season can increase the number of worms in infected pets. Prevention is key to ensuring the health of your pet.
Apart from keeping pets away from mosquito-heavy areas, pet owners will find that annual heartworm testing, as well as monthly prevention medications, can provide the protection needed to keep animals safe. Preventive medicines can prolong your pet's life, so consider them a crucial part of your pet's care.