Yesterday we discussed a pet owner’s misconception that his pet, a dog in this instance, wasn’t at risk for heartworm disease because he was a mostly-indoor pet.
Everything we will say today will apply equally to your canine and feline friends.
We’ve known for nearly a century that dogs get heartworms. We’ve known for decades that cats get heartworms. Much more recently it became known that indoor cats get heartworms at about the same rate that outdoor cats do. Researchers wanted to know why, and their collaboration with entomologists showed that the mosquito that carries the heartworm parasite best also likes the indoor environment.
So, your pet doesn’t have to go outdoors at all to become infected with Dirofilaria immitis, the heartworm parasite. Mosquitoes are happy to bring them indoors to your pet.
When pets are described as “mostly indoor pets,” owners often forget that dogs go outdoors to use the bathroom four or more times each day. A single encounter with a single mosquito is enough to infect your pet with heartworms.
Another common misconception is that longhaired pets are immune or at lower risk of heartworm infestation. We need to be reminded that the belly surface of most pets is bald, and the ears have short hair, also. Not that any of this means anything to a mosquito, who can easily fit between hairs on your pets body to reach the skin to feed.
And in feeding, infect your pet with heartworms.
All pets, dogs and cats, need to be on heartworm preventive. And they need to get their heartworm preventive twelve months of the year without fail.
See you Monday, Dr. Randolph.