Why Winter Heartworm Protection is a Must

We have a warm place in our heart for pets, even on the coldest days of our Lake Elmo winters. To protect your pet, we want to encourage you to continue heartworm prevention this winter and beyond. This deadly disease is 100% preventable and is 100% fatal for dogs that do not receive treatment. It also robs the lives of countless cats and other mammals. Why should heartworm prevention be a year-long necessity for your pets?

Heartworms Are Deadly.

Heartworms wreak havoc on the unfortunate pets that they infect. They damage the heart, lungs, blood vessels, and more. This makes it hard for the dog or cat to breathe and makes it more difficult for the heart to pump enough blood through the body.

Dogs offer the best conditions for heartworms to thrive. Once a mosquito bites a dog and transfers heartworm larvae into the dog’s circulatory system, they mature, reproduce, and begin a cycle of damage. These gross worms can grow up to one foot in length, clogging the lungs and heart while starving vital organs of oxygen. If left untreated, heartworm disease is fatal in dogs.

When a cat contracts heartworms, these parasites cause similar damage although the heartworms are unable to grow to such a long length. Unlike dogs, there is no treatment for heartworms in cats.

Without Heartworm Prevention, Existing Larvae Can Mature in Winter

Mosquitoes spread heartworm larvae (or baby heartworms)--not the adults. If a mosquito passes heartworm larvae to your dog in the fall and you discontinue heartworm prevention during winter, those larvae can mature into adults over the wintertime. Once these heartworms reach full-size, heartworm preventative medicines cannot kill these adults.

Additionally, it can be dangerous to give a dog with adult heartworms preventative medicine. This can send the body into shock and lead to heart issues. This is why we always test dogs and cats before prescribing heartworm medication.

Warm Winter Days and Spring Present an Opportunity for Mosquitoes to Hatch

As our winters become less and less predictable, we can expect more frequent warm winter days. These higher temperatures give mosquitos a chance to hatch. All it takes is one hungry mosquito to bite and infect your pet.

Treatment Is More Expensive Than Prevention

Heartworm preventative medications are only a fraction of the price of heartworm treatment. When a dog contracts heartworms, the treatment takes one or two overnight stays at the clinic and weeks of uncertainty and stress.

Dogs must stick to bed rest as they recover from heartworm treatment. As the bodies of expired heartworms break down, they create a risk of heart failure and permanent lung damage.

Don’t Leave Your Pet Out in the Cold When it Comes to Heartworms

Saving a small amount of money by skipping heartworm prevention during winter can quickly become a costly mistake. The risk of losing your best friend is not worth saving a small amount of money. Your pet’s heart is precious. Protect it every day, no matter the season.

If you have questions or are due for a heartworm preventative refill, please give us a call at 651-770-3250 or make an appointment to see us.

Photo Credit: Hasan Albari / Pexels.

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