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Posted on 11-10-2017

Hurricanes and Heartworms – How Is This Concerning for Arizona’s Pet Population?

Is my dog at risk for heartworm disease? Read on to learn answers to our most frequently asked questions regarding heartworm disease in dogs and cats.

How would my dog get heartworm disease? If a mosquito bites an animal that is infected with heartworms, the ingested blood contains microscopic heartworm larvae. When that mosquito in turn bites the next animal, these larvae will eventually cause heartworm infestation in this animal as well unless they are on a monthly heartworm preventive. Without heartworm preventive medication, these immature heartworms can grow to become adult heartworms, taking up residence in the heart and lungs, causing severe health problems and eventually death if not treated.

How long after a heartworm positive mosquito bite does a dog show positive for heartworms? It can take around 6 months after exposure for an animal to accurately be diagnosed as heartworm positive through blood testing.

Is heartworm disease in Arizona? Heartworm disease is a serious and ongoing problem in the southeastern portion of the United States. When Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in 2005, thousands of stray and abandoned animals were relocated to other states, including Arizona. According to the American Heartworm Society, around 60% of those animals were heartworm positive.

With the recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastating Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and surrounding states, more stray and abandoned animals will inevitably be headed our way. Many are already here.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council estimates that 20% of the dogs in Louisiana and southeastern parts of Texas, hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, are heartworm positive – these dogs are being distributed amongst other states, leaving Arizona’s dogs more susceptible to becoming heartworm positive.

What can I do to prevent heartworm disease? If your pet is not currently on a heartworm preventive, you can have your pet heartworm tested and started on preventive immediately. If you would like to learn more about heartworm disease and heartworm prevention, feel free to contact us anytime, or visit the American Heartworm Society website.

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