This week Hailey Knight, our Jonesboro Operations Manager, takes over the blog to tell you all about heartworm disease! Heartworms are especially prevalent in Northeast Arkansas, where mosquitoes rule the outdoors. Enjoy!
You’re standing outside watching your human puppy’s little league game. It’s a beautiful breezy evening with fellow parents when all of a sudden you feel that tiny little zap followed by that familiar zinging itch—mosquitos. You can run, but you definitely cannot hide.
Link, a heartworm survivor rescued from Jonesboro in 2015 after his former owner moved away and left him chained in the backyard. Photo by Leeanna Tankersley
I love summer time, but I do not enjoy Arkansas summers because of mosquitos. They’re in your house, your car, they even follow you inside Walmart from the parking lot. Even with enough Off! spray to guarantee your patio stays safe for an hour or so, your only hope is staying indoors after sunset. But, what about your outdoor furry friends? Where does their safe haven lie?
Did you know that mosquitos are the primary reason for heartworms in dogs? For being such tiny little pests, they sure can pack a punch in the disease department. Heart worms are easy to protect against, but they are awful once they’re in your dogs system (traveled by one mosquito bite!) and bedding down for the long run. Heartworms can reach 12” in length and can live for 5-7 years. Typical symptoms (after months of the worms growing) are coughing, lethargy, reluctance to exercise, loss of appetite, and appearance of swollen bellies due to fluid retention. A vet will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis with a blood test should you suspect heartworms. Also—keep in mind that heart worms are completely different from intestinal worms (hookworm, roundworm, tapeworm, whipworm). Dewormer protects against intestinal worms, NOT heartworms. While intestinal worms can cause the swollen belly and coughing/hacking, they can be detected easily with a fecal done at your vet’s office. The bad news is if heart worm disease is not caught in time, it can be fatal to animals. The good news is that it is very easy to prevent against and multiple products exist on the market to protect your pet against these pesky little boogers! Here are a couple of tips below:
Prevention – consult with your vet on the best heart health maintenance program. Year round protection is encouraged since it takes heart worms about six months to develop in the dogs systems. Six month injectables OR monthly chewable pills can be prescribed by any vet for a year round prevention plan for your fluffer, giving you optimal protection and ultimate peace of mind.
Thomas, a beagle currently in treatment for a very severe case of heartworms after being rescued from Blytheville. He is being fostered by our Assistant Manager in Conway, Hailey Manion.
Fight back – lessen the chances of mosquitos invading your yard and, inevitably, your pet with horrible diseases. If you can keep your fur kid indoors, that’s great! But if your dog simply loves the great outdoors too much, there are tons of things alongside prevention that will keep those dreaded flying insects at bay:
• Remove stagnant water gathering grounds (old forgotten flower pots, kiddie pools, etc.).
• Make sure you’re emptying water bowls everyday—mosquitos LOVE still water!
• We are rice field heaven. Avoid walking your dog in any marshy areas because that’s basically the mothership for mosquito clans!
• Most flea and tick preventatives are also repellants for bugs, but make sure you’re getting one that protects against mosquitos. Some sprays are harmful to pets, so be sure to do your research or ask your vet for a recommendation.
• Another tactic, albeit a tad more pricey, is a mosquito control service. We use Mosquito Joe at Hounds’ Hideaway for the entire property and love it! They visit us twice a month, are incredibly friendly guys and they don’t miss an inch of square footage ANYWHERE. We’ve noticed a significant drop in our bug population, and don’t have to fight them outside as much—HOORAY! Also consider an apparatus like a Dynatrap, available in different sizes based on your outdoor square footage and known to wipe out the skeeters by the hundreds.
Should your dog test positive for heartworms, you don’t need to panic automatically. Treatment is available for most cases. Although treatment is usually successful, it is very expensive and takes several months to complete. Prevention is much cheaper and easier!
Yes, mosquitos are not our friends. But thankfully, we’ve got options to protect our lovable creatures and ourselves to have a happy summer! As always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me. May you have a fantastic mosquito free weekend! –HAILEY