It’s April and here in South Florida it’s already hot and rainy; mosquito season. Most of us are aware of parasites like fleas and ticks being an issue for our dogs. They can transmit diseases or carry tapeworm, so we’re diligent about a monthly preventative to help keep them at bay. What about the mosquito, though? Our state bird! These aggravating insects, aside from being out for blood, are the carriers of the heart worm parasite. That means our state is a prime spot for these pests to fester.
Prevalence of Heartworm by State
In the map above you can see that the entirety of Florida is in the higher percentages for heart worm prevalence. In addition, one heart worm positive dog in a neighborhood increases the ratio of heart worm positive mosquitoes that will potentially infect other dogs. Prevention for our dogs is important to protect their health and health of other dogs in the area.
So we should all go order some preventative online right now! Well…hold on a second. You should not get any preventative treatment without first testing your dog for the parasite. If your dog is already infected, the preventative won’t be preventing anything. Dogs should be tested for heart worm every 12 months and be cleared of the parasite before a preventative can be prescribed. If the dog tests positive they will need to undergo a separate, more expensive, treatment in order to eradicate the worms.
Types of Preventative
Once you have determined that your pups is heart worm free, there’s quite a few choices in terms of prevention. Find out from your vet what they would suggest amongst the available options. Some vets may be able to steer you in the direction of an alternative that isn’t the more commonly prescribed.
Top tips to remember?
- Heart worm prevention is important in our state.
- Test your dog annually to be sure he/she isn’t heart worm positive (every 12 months is the recommendation)
- Only begin prevention if your dog tested heart worm negative
- Know your choices and consult with the vet on the best method of prevention for your pet
Keep your pet safe from heart worm this season and consult a veterinarian for testing and preventatives. New to the area and not sure where to go? Check out our friends at Sunset Animal Clinic and Country Club Animal Hospital.