Protecting your pets from mosquito-borne pests | News, Sports, Jobs - The Review

2022-08-20 02:21:13 By : Ms. Ambial Jiang

Along with the highly-anticipated summer season come long evenings spent on porches, a return to favorite outdoor pastimes, and unfortunately, the seemingly unavoidable annoyance of insect bites.

To continue enjoying the many pleasurable outdoor activities that accompany summertime, humans have developed a number of repellants for various creeping, crawling, and flying insects, most notably mosquitos. Whether you opt for more recognized brands of spray-on repellant or the distinct smell of citronella plants or candles, there is at least some reprieve from painful, itch-inducing mosquito bites and the diseases that can come with them.Unfortunately, there are a number of public health concerns that mosquito-borne diseases pose long after the initialbites have healed for humans and animals alike.

While we can adequately protect ourselves from the bite of mosquitos, our pets are more vulnerable to the relentless pursuit of these blood-sucking insects and must rely on their owners to avoid the negative ramifications that come with mosquito bites. Heartworm, an organism scientifically known as Dirofilaria immitis, is spread through the bite of adult female mosquitos, several species of which are found in Ohio. Once transmitted into the bloodstream via a mosquito bite, the young heartworm larvae grow, lodge, and can even breed in the heart of dogs and cats. A mature adult female heartworm can grow up to twelve inches in length. Cases of up to several hundred heartworms have been reported ina single dog, resulting in heart failure, while cats harbor immature worms that cause respiratory distress. Symptoms indicative of heartworm disease in dogs include persistent cough, exercise intolerance, lethargy, and a swollen belly caused by fluid accumulation from decreased heart function.

Describing the details of heartworm disease undoubtedly paints a grim picture. The good news is that heartworm is both preventable and treatable in dogs, although prevention is far less costly and more effective than treatment for the disease. Heartworm prevention can be reliably obtained through local veterinarians after a thorough health examination and is available in oral, topical, and injectable forms, many of these formulas possessing various ancillary advantages, durations of action, and side effects.

A veterinary visit to obtain these medications is crucial to ensure that your pet is not already heartworm-positive. Testing for heartworm involves a simple blood test recommended to be performed at least once annually that can also detect several other vector-borne diseases of concern.Heartworm disease treatment is an expensive, risky, and complicated process, involving multiple injections of an anti-parasitic medication into the muscles surrounding the spine and strict exercise restrictionfor months at a time. Even with treatment, dogs may not fully recover and can pass away from complications associated with the invasive treatment. In addition, heartworm disease infects cats quite differently, resulting in an inability to treat feline heartworm infections once they are acquired.

Therefore, prevention is the only form of protection from heartworm in cats. It should be noted that heartworm preventative is not free, nor is it guaranteed to be absolutely effective. As a result, the value of purchasing heartworm preventative medications is sometimes questioned, especially for pets that live primarily indoors. While it is true that indoor cats and dogs are exposed to far fewer mosquitoes than those that reside mostly outside, the disease is contracted from one single mosquito bite. Anyone who has woken from a night of sleep with a bug bite of unknown origin can attest that even when inside, we are not always able to protect ourselves from mosquito bites.

The benefit of purchasing heartworm preventative is best explained by applying a well-known adage: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In this case, the cost of monthly heartworm prevention is significantly lower than that of treatment. Spending a small fee on a monthly basis (usuallybetween $10 to $30,depending on the size of the animal and type of product chosen) can be frustrating, especially when the reward is not plainly felt or seen. However, heartworm treatment costs roughly $1,0000 often times more, and it will not necessarily save the life of your pet, a priceless family member.

To determine which heartworm preventative may be best for you and your pet, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian today. Be wary of online sources of heartworm preventative medications, as there are a number of inauthentic products on the market that will be wholly ineffective and possibly harmful for your pet to receive. In addition, approved medications for preventing heartworm disease such as ivermectin can cause severe, sometimes fatal reactions in some breeds of dogs. As a result, self-administration of drugs that are not prescribed by a veterinarian for the specific animal being treated can result in terrible unintended consequences.

Remember that while heartworm is a truly devastating disease that can cause irreversible damage to the hearts and lungs of our beloved furry companions, there is hope in routine testing and responsible administration of preventative medication. Heartworm disease is diagnosed on a daily basis throughout Ohio and the entire United States. Help your pet to avoid receiving this terrible news by talking with your veterinarian sooner rather than later.Whether a lazy couch potato or a working livestock dog or barn cat, providing heartworm prevention is important.

For more information on heartworm disease, visit the American Heartworm Society website at If you have additional questions about other mosquito-borne diseases that infect humans, do not hesitate to call the Columbiana County Health District at 330-424-0272.

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