Although a strong argument could be made in favor of mosquitoes and the important role they play in the ecosystem, I think it would be fair to say that most people do not look forward to their arrival in the spring time.
As many pet owners know, the return of mosquitoes means that “heartworm season” has begun. Heartworm (Dirofiliaria immitis) is a parasite that is transmitted by mosquitoes to dogs and cats. This parasite matures into a worm that lodges in the large vessels and chambers of the animal’s heart.
Your veterinarian can perform a blood test to see if your pet has been infected with heartworm. If this disease is detected early it can often be effectively treated.
Pets can be protected from infection by the administration of preventative medication on a monthly basis. Many of these medications also have the additional benefit of protecting your pet from fleas and intestinal parasites.
Both dogs and cats are susceptible to heartworm but the diagnosis and treatment is less straightforward in cats. Fortunately, veterinary knowledge about the feline form of this disease is evolving rapidly.
As no medication can be guaranteed to be 100% effective your veterinarian will likely recommend heartworm testing your pet on a periodic basis. Testing is the only way to determine if a break in protection has occurred.
For the most current recommendations regarding heartworm testing and prevention please consult with your own veterinarian this spring.
If you know anyone who may be considering adopting a new cat or dog, please visit our website to see the lovely pets right here at Algonquin College that are searching for their “forever homes”.