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Protecting Your Dog From Heartworm

April 1 2021

April Is Heartworm Awareness Month! Heartworms are very dangerous parasites that can make your canine companion very sick. In fact, infestations can even be fatal. Here, a McHenry, IL vet lists some ways to keep Fido safe from heartworms.

Know The Enemy

Knowledge is really your best weapon when it comes to keeping your pet safe. The first thing you need to know is that heartworms infest dogs’ hearts, lungs, and arteries. They are in the larval stage when they are first transmitted. However, within about 6 months, they will be fully grown. At this point, they will start reproducing. That’s when the trouble really starts.

Know The Other Enemy

Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are unfortunately everywhere, but warm, wet places, particularly those where there are other dogs around, will present the highest risk. Take steps to limit the numbers of mosquitos on your property. Don’t leave standing water in things like buckets or wheelbarrows. It also won’t hurt to take steps to protect mosquitoes’ natural predators. These include bats, frogs, and even dragonflies.

Preventative Care

The best thing that you can do to keep your furry bff safe is to simply keep up with his preventative care. Fido should be on heartworm medication year round. Your vet will be able to offer you information on specific products. Be sure to give your canine pal his heartworm preventative on time!

Keep Up With Tests

Unfortunately, even the most careful heartworm prevention may not be 100% effective. Some heartworms seem to be developing a resistance to certain products. Getting your four-legged friend tested regularly is very important! Fido will also need to be tested before beginning a heartworm preventative. That’s because the products that kill heartworm larvae will not kill adult worms.

Watch For Symptoms

Fido won’t show any signs of trouble right away. However, as the worms grow, they will begin to compromise his vital organs. Coughing is often the first thing you’ll notice. Other red flags include fatigue, lethargy, shortness of breath, weight loss, and reduced interest in play. Fido may be reluctant to exercise, and he may seem sort of sad and sleepy. Over time, as the infestation gets worse, more serious signs will appear. These include fainting, seizures, and heart attacks.

Do you need to get your dog started on heartworm preventative? Contact us, your McHenry, IL veterinary clinic, today!