An important part of our mission at Mosquito Authority is protecting you and your family (including your pets) from the diseases caused by mosquitoes and ticks. In addition to being the deadliest animal on earth to humans, mosquitoes are also highly dangerous for your pets.
Among the many things that make mosquitoes one of the most dangerous pests in the world is their ability to spread heartworms. With that being said, April is Heartworm Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to shed some light on how heartworms are spread by mosquitoes and what you can do to avoid them.
Here is some information from the American Heartworm Association about Heartworm Awareness Month:
What is heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease occurs when foot-long worms enter the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of an animal. When this happens, the infected animal experiences severe lung damage, heart disease, and organ damage.
How is heartworm disease transmitted?
Why is Heartworm Awareness Month important to us at Mosquito Authority? Because heartworm disease is one of the many diseases caused by mosquitoes. According to the American Heartworm Association, when a mosquito feeds on an infected animal, it picks up microfilaria (microscopic worms) circulating through the animal’s bloodstream. Then, those microscopic worms develop into infective larvae in the mosquito in about 10 to 14 days.
The next time that mosquito bites another animal, the infective larvae enters the bloodstream of that animal through the bite wound left by the mosquito. One of the most dangerous aspects of heartworms is that they can live from two to seven years, depending on their host. This means that every mosquito season, the number of heartworms in a single host can increase significantly.
Who can get heartworm disease?
The most commonly affected animals when it comes to heartworms are dogs, cats, and ferrets. However, other mammals like wolves, coyotes, and foxes can also contract heartworm disease. Although it is rare, humans can become infected with heartworms as well.
How do I know if my pet has heartworms?
The symptoms of heartworm disease vary between animals:
- Dogs: Dogs with heartworm disease can have a variety of symptoms in the beginning stages, such as a cough, fatigue, decreased appetite, and weight loss. When the disease progresses, however, they will have more serious symptoms like heart failure and sudden blockages of blood flow.
- Cats: The signs of heartworm disease in cats can include coughing, vomiting, lack of appetite, and seizures. Unfortunately, many times the disease goes undiagnosed in cats until it results in their death.
- Ferrets: Ferrets have similar symptoms to dogs, but their symptoms can progress more quickly because of their small size. Even if a ferret is only infected with one worm, that worm can cause serious respiratory distress in the animal.
How can I prevent my pet from getting heartworms?
One of the best ways to prevent heartworm disease is to give your pet preventative heartworm medication, which can be purchased through your veterinarian.
Another way to prevent heartworm disease is to hire a local mosquito control company. Our job at Mosquito Authority is making sure you and your pets are protected from the diseases caused by mosquitoes, and that includes heartworms. With at least 80 mosquito species capable of transmitting heartworms, mosquito control is crucial in keeping your pets healthy and happy.