April is National Heartworm Awareness Month, and you are probably thinking “yeah, I’ve heard that heartworms are serious, and my vet tells me I should give my pet those chews to prevent it.” But do you know just how prevalent the disease is? And how deadly? And how difficult (not to mention expensive!) it is to treat? Now are you sure your dogs are getting their preventive religiously?
Believe it or not, over 1 million dogs in the United States alone have heartworm disease – 1 million! The disease is now found across the country, and it lives not just in dogs but in coyotes, foxes, raccoons, even at times in cats and ferrets. It takes just one mosquito to bite an infected animal, pick up some of the parasite, and then transmit it to your beloved four-legged friend. And once heartworm larvae enter your pet’s bloodstream, they are merciless – if untreated, they will mature into adult worm within 6 months, wreaking havoc as they move through the body. Despite their name, heartworms not only cause devastating damage to the heart, they can also affect the liver, lungs and kidneys. Once symptoms appear (usually coughing, weight loss and fatigue) the disease is typically in full force, and treatment is not only lengthy and expensive, it is not always successful.
So please don’t be cavalier about your dog’s heartworm prevention. Make an appointment with your veterinarian today to have her tested, and then mark your calendars to ensure she gets her preventive religiously. It’s the easiest way for you to ensure you and your family are never torn apart by this debilitating and deadly disease.