The Value of Heartworm Protection
In addition to vaccinations and wellness exams, heartworm prevention is essential for keeping your companion free of disease. Since heartworm disease has been identified in every U.S. state and mosquitoes do not hibernate during the winter, it is imperative that your canine companion receives year-round heartworm prevention.
The cycle of heartworm reproduction
Heartworms can infect any mammal, although canines are their preferred hosts. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it ingests microfilariae (L1) from the blood vessels. The larvae are stimulated by the mosquito’s gastric secretions to molt to the L2 stage, after which they migrate to the mosquito’s salivary glands and molt into infective L3 larvae. When a mosquito feeds, L3 larvae migrate beneath the subcutaneous tissue of the animal. Over time, the larvae undergo two phases of metamorphosis, traveling toward the heart of the animal until they reach the main pulmonary artery, where they mature and reproduce.
How heartworm prevention is effective
Inside the animal, the mosquito undergoes multiple phases of development, but only two of these stages are susceptible to heartworm prevention. Once heartworm larvae reach the adolescent or adult stages, preventatives are no longer effective against them, and they must be treated with an arsenic-containing medication that is both expensive and harsh.
By administering a monthly oral chewable or topical liquid heartworm preventative to your companion, you effectively eliminate the heartworm larvae prior to their maturation into a more resilient life stage. Due to the fact that immature larvae can molt into adults in as little as 51 days, it is crucial that your pet receives monthly protection that prevents the life cycle from progressing and causing damage. Injections with a slow-release mechanism that kills heartworm larvae before they metamorphose can also be administered every six or twelve months. Although heartworm prevention does not prevent mosquitoes from biting your companion or the transmission of heartworm larvae, it does prevent the life-threatening heartworm disease.
In observance of National Heartworm Awareness Month, research preventative options for your companion. Call our team to discuss the heartworm preventative that will best protect your furry friend from disease.