Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal condition that can affect both cats and dogs. While easily preventable, these parasites are often hard to detect and treat. This means if you are not taking precautions it might already be too late. What makes matters worse is the onslaught of pure folklore surrounding heartworms, which has little to do with the truth. A lot of people, still don’t fully understand how heartworms invade their pets and thus are unknowingly underprepared to deal with them. Before we bust some dangerous myths regarding heartworms, let’s start with the basics.
How Heartworms Get Transmitted
Mosquitoes are carriers of heartworms. Heartworms are spread when mosquitoes bite animals that already have heartworms and then go on to bite an uninfected animal. Mosquitoes suck up the blood, which contains heartworm larvae, which then get passed on to other animals. Once the larvae enter the bloodstream of the new host animal, it makes its way to the lungs and heart. The larvae grow and become full-sized adult heartworms. They then start to produce microscopic larvae. The newly-born larvae move freely in the bloodstream. At this point, the affected animal can potentially spread the heartworm disease to other animals via mosquito bites.
Like other diseases, there is a fair bit of misconception regarding heartworms. Some people think that heartworms only affect dogs while other believe these can spread directly from animal to animal. Both of which are false. In this post, we focus on the potentially deadly myths that can keep you from taking proper preventive measures and provide appropriate medical care.
Dogs That Stay Indoors Are Naturally Protected from Heartworms
While mosquito bites are more common outdoors, these tiny flying insects can easily invade your home. Not taking proper precaution because your pet stays indoors can lead to serious medical consequences.
Treating Heartworm Disease Is a No Biggie
There is a common belief that treating heartworms in dogs is as simple as administering a pill. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Treating heartworms often requires administering expensive and painful injections. The treatment itself is not without its risks and it doesn’t guarantee success.
Signs and Symptoms Make Heartworm Detection Easy
A lot of dogs don’t display any signs of a heartworm infestation. The only way to be sure is to get a heartworm test done at the vet’s office. Don’t be a victim of this popular myth, get an annual blood test done for heartworms.
Heartworm Treatment Is Unnecessary During Winter Months
While mosquito activities reduce during the colder months they don’t stop all together. American Heartworm Society recommends continuing heartworm preventive all year round.
Heartworm Preventives Make Blood Tests Redundant
This is another dangerous misconception that compromises your pet’s health. As much as pet care companies would like you to believe but no preventive boasts a 100% success rate. In fact, there have been instances of dogs on monthly preventives getting infected by heartworms.
Natural and Herbal Remedies Can Prevent and Treat Heartworms
Natural and herbal remedies can help in repelling mosquitoes. However, their efficacy in treating and preventing heartworms is questionable, to say the least. To be sure, put your faith in FDA-approved pet medications.
Heartworms Is a Problem Only in a Few American States
It’s true that heartworm incidents are more common in some states than others. However, heartworm diseases affect dogs and cats in all 50 states.