Tips to prevent the contraction of heartworm this season

By: Roger Jocey

With the mild temperatures that held sway in much of the country throughout the winter, fleas, ticks and mosquitoes are a bigger factor than in previous years. Without the benefits of a true winter frost, these pesky insects have been allowed to reproduce unchecked and their populations are expected to reach historic levels. While a flea infestation or tick-borne illness is certainly something to worry about, the risk of your canine contracting heartworm is something you should stay on top of all season long, reports

"Pet owners should take special care to protect their pets from ticks, fleas and mosquitoes this season," Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) told the news source. "Always inspect animals' coats thoroughly after they spend time outdoors."

Heartworm is spread by mosquito bites that implants parasitic worms into your canine's bloodstream after being bitten, reports These worms won't show themselves in visual symptoms, and they have to be found during a blood test. These parasites can be removed if caught early enough, but if they are allowed to spread throughout the bloodstream to vital organs, they can be fatal.

While performing visual checks and using topical drops is a great step in the right direction, investing in a heartworm preventative is a wise choice for the spring and summer season. Make an appointment at the vet's office early in the spring and invest in a few heartworm preventatives. Often these products are small tablets that can be taken orally, but a common misconception is that they prevent all forms of the parasite. This is not true - the small parasites can actually enter the body when a dog is bitten by a mosquito, but the product will then kill off any that enter the bloodstream.

Heartworm is a very scary proposition for your canine, so it's vital that you stay on top of his parasite prevention and bring him in for regular trips to the vet for blood work. This will give you peace of mind throughout the high-risk times of the year and spare your pooch from plenty of trouble. The warm weather is finally here, so it's time to make an appointment at the vet, buy a few flea and tick products and make a number of dog wellness preparations before we get into the heart of the new season.

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