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April is National Heartworm Awareness Month

By April 17, 2023January 16th, 2024No Comments

April, often associated with the arrival of spring and summer, is also significant for veterinarians and animal welfare advocates as Heartworm Awareness Month. During this time, efforts to educate the public about this dangerous pet disease are intensified. Many people misunderstand heartworms, not realizing that they can affect various animals, including cats and even humans. These small worms can inhabit the lungs, blood vessels, and arteries, resulting in heart failure, lung disease, and severe organ damage. April was chosen for Heartworm Awareness Month since mosquitoes, which transmit the disease, start becoming active in many areas. Erickson Veterinary Hospital in Chico, CA, emphasizes the importance of year-round heartworm prevention, not just during warmer months when the risk of infection is higher.

The Need for Year-Round Heartworm Prevention

While mosquitoes carrying heartworm larvae are predominantly active in warmer months, they can survive indoors long enough during colder periods to infect pets. Moreover, if you travel with your pet to a warmer location during winter, they can easily contract the disease. If your pet is bitten by an infected mosquito late in the season and you discontinue heartworm prevention during winter, the larvae have ample time to mature into adults without any obstacles. Heartworm diagnostic blood tests aren’t designed to detect larvae, and most heartworm preventatives are ineffective against adult worms. Consequently, resuming medication in spring will not help, and lengthy, uncomfortable treatments will be necessary to eradicate them.

Guarding Against Other Parasites

Many heartworm medications also contain additives that target intestinal parasites like roundworms and hookworms. As these parasites can survive outdoors in soil all year round, year-round heartworm prevention also protects your pet from these harmful organisms.

Heartworm Treatment

When detected early, heartworm can be effectively treated. However, the treatment process is lengthy and painful, requiring at least six months of restricted exercise and activity for pets, particularly dogs. Preventing this outcome with year-round heartworm prevention is less costly and a wise investment in your pet’s health.
For more information on year-round heartworm prevention, contact Erickson Veterinary Hospital in Chico, CA.

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