Heartworm Prevention in Cropwell

Heartworm disease is on the rise in the US. In the Pell City and Cropwell areas, mosquitoes are active for just about the entire year, making heartworm disease an even bigger threat for area pets. Heartworm disease occurs when heartworm larvae in an animal’s bloodstream make it to the heart and lungs, where they are able to mature into adult heartworms.

How Do Pets Become Infected?

Female mosquitoes are responsible for spreading heartworm disease from host to host. The cycle involves:

  • The female mosquito biting an animal infected with heartworms and ingesting the microfilariae (tiny, thread-like larvae; the earliest stage of a heartworm’s life) from the animal’s bloodstream
  • The microfilariae changing into infective larvae after about 2 weeks inside the female mosquito and traveling to the mosquito’s mouthparts
  • The mosquito feeding on a host and transferring the infective larvae into the host’s bloodstream
  • The infective larvae traveling through the animal’s bloodstream and, over the course of several months, maturing into adult heartworms and anchoring themselves in the arteries around the heart and lungs
  • As the heartworms propagate, microfilariae circulate through the animal’s bloodstream, and if a mosquito bites the animal, they ingest the microfilariae, continuing the infection cycle

Why is Heartworm Disease Difficult to Treat?

The reason our veterinarians at Pell City Animal Hospital advocate for heartworm prevention is simple: your pet stays healthy, they will avoid the harmful effects of heartworm disease, and they will not need to experience costly, stressful treatment that may not even fully reverse the damage done by the heartworms. Furthermore, treating heartworm disease is far more expensive than purchasing years worth of heartworm preventatives.

How Do Heartworm Preventatives Work?

Heartworm preventatives do not prevent pets from becoming infected with heartworm larvae. However, they can kill off the larvae before they are able to mature into adults, which is when they become a serious problem.

Each time your pet receives a dose of preventative, that dose kills any larvae that have accumulated in your pet’s bloodstream in the last 30 days. Since larvae need more than 30 days to mature, each dose should successfully eliminate the larvae from your pet’s system. This is why continuous, year-round heartworm protection is essential.

For more information about heartworm preventatives and what options are available to your pet, contact our vet clinic in Pell City at (205) 884-4104!

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