While you’re out enjoying everything the season has to offer with your furry friends, spring safety should be top of mind as a pet owner. Naturally, as the temperatures start to rise, a primary safety concern is the effect that heartworm disease can have on your pet’s health. In fact, heartworm in dogs is shown to be transmitted through a mosquito bite. Sadly, this very serious, sometimes fatal disease can affect all pets, including cats, and is not only related to pets spending time outdoors. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde, to further discuss spring safety for heartworm in dogs and best practices to keep your pet safe year-round.
Heartworm in dogs: what you need to know
What is heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease can affect all pets, regardless of their age, breed, or gender.
Wilde weighs in on the key details of heartworm disease –
“Heartworms enter the dog or cat’s body when it is bitten by a mosquito. The immature forms travel through the bloodstream and then mature in the heart and major blood vessels of the heart and lungs. Heartworm disease is the clinical sign that we see secondary to worms living in the heart and associated blood vessels.”
If your pet comes in contact with an afflicted mosquito, there’s a chance they could become infected with heartworm disease. If you have any cause for concern, please seek medical care and reach out to your veterinarian. For instance, your veterinarian can run tests for heartworm diseaseand start a treatment plan.
Signs of heartworm disease
Essentially, heartworm in dogs and heartworm disease for all pets alike can be a difficult disease to detect as a pet owner. However, it definitely helps to know the signs your pet may display. Further, if you’re concerned your cat has contracted heartworm disease, please know that cats may not display any signs of disease before the illness takes its course.
If you feel your dog is showing signs of heartworm disease, consider the following:
Each pet is different and might react differently to a mosquito bite. In the meantime, if you suspect your pet has been bitten, take notes on your pet’s health and behavior. Consult with your veterinarian if you see anything out of the ordinary or see any changes with your pet.
Heartworm in dogs: the importance of a treatment plan
If your pet does contract heartworm disease there’s value in early detection.
Your trusted veterinary provider will recommend a treatment plan as it is essential to address your pet’s heartworm disease immediately. In addition, your veterinarian can prescribe a treatment plan for different stages of heartworm disease in dogs and cats.
Fortunately, with the proper treatment plan and your veterinarian’s guidance, the disease can go into remission. However, it is essential you keep your pet on the plan for it to succeed.
Stay on a regimented schedule of medication or injections prescribed by your veterinarian
Keep your veterinarianup to date with any changes in your dog’s health
The effects of heartworm disease on indoor and outdoor pets
Indoor and outdoor pets alike can be affected by heartworm disease. With increasing temperatures throughout the spring and summer seasons, pet owners may keep windows open to cool down their home. For instance, “pets don’t have to go outdoors to be at risk for heartworms, because mosquitoes can get inside too,” states Wilde. Alternatively, prioritize when you open windows in the house and be mindful of any areas of the house where pests, such as mosquitoes, could incubate or enter unnoticed.
Best practices to prevent heartworm
Heartworm is a preventable disease. The best course of action to prevent heartworm disease in pets is to talk to your veterinarian about a heartworm prevention plan that is right for your best friend.
Wilde breaks down the importance of preventative medication.
“I would advise a year-round preventative. Also, there’s a six-month injectable that you can ask your veterinarian about. With a proper preventative medication schedule and check-ins with your pet’s veterinarian, you can enjoy all the upcoming seasons with your furry friends.”
Heartworm in dogs: protection is essential
Heartworm in dogs and cats is a serious disease and can be a scary and unpredictable scenario for our furry friends. But with the consultation of your veterinarian, it can be both cured and prevented. Certainly, if your pet does get heartworm disease, and it is detected and treated, brighter days are ahead. Your pet can experience remission and look forward to many adventures to come.
is a digital content writer and editor for Trupanion. She spends her workday writing for the Trupanion blog. She loves writing about pets, being inspired by pets, and luckily gets to hang out with her rescue dogs all day long. In her free time, she enjoys exploring and traveling with her family. Her work has been featured on the DOGTV blog, KitNipBox blog, Get Your Pet blog, Fansided, among many others.