San Jose Pet Parent’s Guide
Brought to you by the veterinarians and staff at Story Road Animal Hospital
Creepy-Crawling, Jumping, Biting, Buzzing, Blood-Sucking and Disease Spreading Parasites that LOVE Your Precious Pets
This blog article was previously published, but we’ve just updated it with new information about Heartworm Disease in both dogs and cats.
We’re talking about the disease spreading bugs we see most often here in San Jose; mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. More than just a nuisance when they buzz, bite, and sting, these bugs also carry diseases which can seriously harm your pets. And some that can even infect you or your children.
Part One of a Three-Part Series
And with all of the rain we’ve had over the last few months, the mosquitoes are going to be buzzing and biting – big time!
The biggest threat the mosquito poses to your pet dogs and cats is Heartworm Disease.
Q: What is Heartworm Disease?
A: Heartworm disease is a parasitic infestation of adult worms in a pet. Adult heartworms can be up to a foot long and can cause serious damage to your pet’s heart, lungs, and other areas.
In cats, Heartworm Disease is often deadly as there is no approved treatment for cats. Prevention is the only answer.
In dogs, Heartworm Disease is often life-threatening even with approved treatment. What most people don’t know, is that the treatment for heartworms in dogs causes pain your dog must withstand in order to have a chance at beating the disease. Of course we will treat heartworm infections in dogs here in our veterinary hospital, but knowing they are in pain breaks our hearts. Prevention is, by far, the best medicine.
Although no drug is 100% effective at preventing heartworm disease, the statistics prove that many of the preventative prescription drugs are highly effective. Many pharmaceutical manufacturers support an impressive guarantee, but only when the medication is purchased from your licensed veterinarian.
Q: How can one little mosquito carry around a foot-long heartworm?
A: While the mosquito can’t carry around an adult size heartworm – the mosquito does carry the tiny microscopic larval form of the heartworm. Mosquitoes are only the intermediate host which means the microscopic heartworm live in the mosquito / depend on the mosquito before they make their final journey into a preferred host (your pet!).
Q: How can I protect my pet?
A: Prevention is the best protection. We carry several types of heartworm preventative medication for both dogs and cats right here in our hospital’s pharmacy. We also have an even bigger selection available from our online pharmacy – online store – VetSource.
And we are pleased to announce we now can protect your dog for 6-months with just one injection of ProHeart-6.
However, before starting any preventative medication, we must first test your pet’s blood because giving heartworm preventative to a pet who is already infected can kill your pet. How? The medication kills the heartworm already inside your pet and the dead worms can completely clog your pet’s heart. It is critical that you understand the preventative medication is VERY different from the medication used to treat an already infected pet.
Once the blood work indicates your pet is free of heartworm disease, and a veterinarian has examined your pet and found your pet to be in good health, then we can discuss preventative medication choices best for your pet, for your lifestyle, and within your budget.
Q: How does my pet get heartworms in the first place?
A: Before biting your pet, the mosquito will have already taken a blood meal from an infected animal (the mosquito already bit a dog, coyote, or fox, etc. that has heartworms) and within the blood meal there was microscopic heartworm larvae at the L1 stage. The microscopic larvae lived inside of the mosquito’s body as it grew from a L1 stage to L2 and finally to L3 larval stage (still very small). When the infected mosquito started biting your pet, the L3 larvae left the mosquito through the stinger and entered your pet’s body through the bite wound. Once inside your pet’s body, the very small heartworm larvae (L4 stage) made its way through your pet’s skin tissue and into your pet’s blood vein. Once in the vein, the worms hitched a ride in the bloodstream which eventually led them to the pulmonary blood vessels that supply the heart and lungs. Some worms made their way to the pulmonary artery close to the heart.
Please feel free to reach-out to us at Story Road Animal Hospital. We all live right here in San Jose and we all have pets, too. Although only a licensed veterinarian can diagnose and prescribe, our knowledgeable staff would be happy to discuss mosquito, flea, and tick control ideas with you. And we’d love to hear what is working for you.