Every summer, we battle mosquitoes to keep them away and to protect ourselves from their itchy bites and the possibility of getting a mosquito-borne disease. But, have you considered the fact that your dog can also get bitten by mosquitoes? While a dog’s fur can make it much more difficult for a mosquito to bite, some areas aren’t covered by fur. A mosquito can easily access these areas, such as the nose and ears.
So yes, mosquitoes do indeed bite dogs, cats, and many other animals. Just as this small insect can be deadly to humans, it can also be deadly to our beloved pets.
Mosquitoes carry multiple diseases and viruses that can be harmful to humans such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and the West Nile virus, among others. But mosquitoes also transfer things that are very harmful to pets. More specifically, the parasitic roundworm known as Dirofilaria immitis. Commonly known as heartworms, these can affect the heart and lungs of a dog. This dangerous parasite is transferred from infected dogs to healthy ones by mosquitoes.
Heartworms live and reproduce inside the lungs, heart, and blood vessels of the dog. While doing so, they cause many health problems and, if untreated, can even result in death. The worst part is that no vaccine can provide full-time protection against heartworms. The only way to stop this parasite is to protect your pet from mosquitoes and to regularly use preventative medicine.
For the first few months, the symptoms of heartworm disease may not be visible and may not even show up in blood tests. After some time, some symptoms of an infection may start to appear. These include coughing and weakness after a small amount of exercise, which didn’t exist previously. When these symptoms appear, the disease should also show up in blood tests.
Finally, the dog may experience more advanced symptoms such as difficulty breathing, frequent coughing, and coughing up blood. It will become tired very quickly and may also catch pneumonia or begin fainting.
The best way to protect your dog from heartworms is by using preventative medication. This is much safer, faster, and cheaper than treating a dog after it’s been infected.
Heartworms can be successfully treated and are, in most cases. As with most diseases, the stage in which the disease is diagnosed is important, as is the speed of treatment. If left untreated, the symptoms may become much more serious and may lead to death.
If you think that your dog might have heartworm disease, immediately take it to the vet, so they can perform further tests. Depending on the stage of the disease, there are different methods of diagnosis, including blood tests and x-rays. If the disease is in its later stages, the treatment will be pretty serious. It may take months for the dog to fully recover.
Heartworm treatment usually happens in two stages.
The medicine used to kill adult heartworms is usually arsenic-based. You’ve probably heard of the dangers that arsenic can pose to a living organism. Some side effects may occur but if used correctly, this arsenic-based medicine won’t cause any additional symptoms in the dog.
Dogs will receive a series of Immiticide injections. After that, the dog will need a lot of rest while the medicine kills the adult heartworms, which the dog must also safely expel. This exercise-free period is very important when treating this disease. Failing to keep the dog calm and rested may have worse consequences or even result in death.
In the second stage, the microfilaria in the blood of the dog is eliminated, which, if left, can develop into adult heartworms.
To get rid of microfilaria, doctors use the same medicine as for preventative treatment. This slowly kills the microfilaria that is living in the dog’s blood vessels.
The last step, if everything else has failed, is to perform surgery to remove the worms from the heart of the dog. This is a very dangerous operation that is only performed if the dog would die otherwise.
Preventing heartworms is the most effective way to protect your dog. After the dog becomes infected, curing that infection will cost a lot more in both time and effort.
There are different ways to prevent heartworm infections in dogs and cats. The first obvious step is to fight mosquitoes directly by using mosquito control methods. You can start by locating all standing water around your yard since this is where mosquitoes breed and lay their eggs.
You can use devices such as mosquito traps and mosquito foggers to reduce the overall mosquito population in your yard. Mosquito repellents will keep the insects away for a limited amount of time. To be mosquito-free indoors, use mosquito nets on your doors and windows. This will keep the majority of mosquitoes from entering your house.
These simple but effective steps will benefit not only your pets but also yourself.
Heartworm Disease Prevention
One single mosquito can transfer microfilaria from an infected dog to another dog. When talking about direct heartworm prevention, there are much better ways to protect your pets. There are a couple of preventive medicines that come as shots and pills, which you must administer monthly. Since the animal must take this medicine at certain intervals, it’s very important to not skip a shot or a pill.
Some of the most popular medicine used for heartworm prevention are Ivermectin, Moxidectin, and Selamectin. These medications kill the heartworms in the development stage before it can become an adult. This preventative treatment generally costs less than 100 dollars a year, depending on the size of a dog and the medicine used.