Heartworm can kill your dog or cat and make their life miserable. Summer is the best time for any dog owner to play fetch and romp around in the backyard with Fido, but you need to be wary of Heartworm and what you can do to prevent your pets from becoming ill.
What is Heartworm?
Heartworms are needle thin worms, or parasites, that once your pet becomes infected, live in the blood stream of your cat or dog. They continue to breed while in your pet’s blood and infest inner organs, especially within the lungs and heart from which they get their name. As the worms grow and reproduce, they prevent proper blood flow; can cause blood clots, cause organ failure and death.
Heartworm is typically transmitted by other parasites that feed on your pets’ blood, such as mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. If one of these insects fed on an infected animal that has heartworm, your pet can become infected if bit by the same insects.
How does lawn care enter the equation? Well, there are a few things you can do to keep mosquitoes, ticks and fleas out of your yard and thereby reducing the potential for Heartworm to be transmitted to your pets.
1. Make sure your lawn is mowed appropriately, properly and consistently. A tidy lawn can prevent mosquitoes, ticks and fleas from having a party in your yard.
2. Reduce and eliminate any landscaping features or water drainage problems that create standing water. Mosquitoes breed in standing water.
3. Reduce any areas of overgrowth where fleas and ticks like to hang out and will quickly hitch a ride on Fido’s back when traipsing through heavy brush, tall weeds or uncut grass.
Early diagnosis of Heartworm infection can be difficult, as symptoms usually aren’t easily recognized. Routine vet health checks that include a blood test to detect Heartworms are the most effective way to diagnose the condition. Be sure to keep up with preventative medication, such as monthly Heartguard chewables.
Pets may start to feel tired, eat less and lose weight when they are infected; but even these symptoms are slow to appear.
Be careful and take good care of your pets by maintaining a happy and healthy lawn!