It seems as if mosquitoes pose as much of a threat to pets as they do to humans. Aside from causing extreme itchiness, mosquitoes can endanger both dogs and cats by spreading a life-threatening disease known as Heartworm disease.
Heartworm disease originates from a parasitic worm known as Dirofilaria immitis. Once a mosquito has finished sucking blood from an infected animal, the mosquito harboring the parasite will have injected it into the blood systems of dogs or cats in the initial bite. The parasite then disperses throughout their major blood vessels and into their hearts and lungs. It can live up to seven years in dogs and three years in cats.
“It was first discovered over 100 years ago, in the 1920s. Since then, it’s been identified worldwide,” said Dr. Kenya Crawford of Central Veterinary Associates.
Pet owners are advised to be alert if they suspect that their pets are infected. Dogs and cats that have the disease do not necessarily exhibit symptoms. Depending on the degree of the infection, some pets may not show any signs of the disease while others may have difficulty breathing and cough persistently.
“They can progress to the point where they can die,” said Crawford.
Still, there are ways to prevent pets from being susceptible to the disease. Because mosquitoes are widespread, the best approach is to use a monthly Heartworm preventive.
Central Veterinary Associates, for example, recommends a product known as “Revolution,” a preventive designed to protect dogs and cats from Heartworm disease and a number of gastrointestinal parasite infections.
“It’s a topical application that they put on dogs and cats. It’s a medication that lasts for thirty days,” explained Crawford.
For more information on protecting your pet’s health, visit www.centralvets.com.