How Does Heartworm Prevention Work?

Heartworm prevention is crucial for maintaining your pet’s health and preventing sickness, along with routine immunizations and wellness checks. Keep your four-legged buddy on heartworm prevention year-round because mosquitoes don’t hibernate during the winter and heartworm illness has been identified in every U.S. state.


The heartworm life cycle

Any mammal can be infected with heartworms, although these parasites prefer canine hosts. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, they ingest microfilariae, or heartworm larvae (L1), from the blood vessels. The mosquito’s gastric juices stimulate the larvae to molt to the L2 stage, and they then migrate to the mosquito’s salivary glands and molt to infective L3 larvae. When the mosquito feeds, the L3 larvae swim under the pet’s subcutaneous tissue. Over time, the larvae molt through two stages, traveling toward the pet’s heart until they finally arrive in the main pulmonary artery, where they reach adulthood and reproduce.


How heartworm prevention works

Inside the pet, the mosquito goes through multiple larval stages, but only two larval stages are susceptible to heartworm prevention. Once heartworm larvae reach juvenile or adult stages, preventives can no longer kill them, and they need treatment with an arsenic-containing drug, which is costly and harsh. 

You may efficiently eliminate heartworm larvae by administering a monthly heartworm preventive to your pet, whether it be an oral chewable or a topical liquid. In order to prevent the life cycle from continuing and endangering your pet, monthly prevention is essential because immature larvae can molt into the adult stage in as little as 51 days. You can alternatively administer injections every six or twelve months that have a gradual release mechanism to guarantee that heartworm larvae are eliminated before they molt. Heartworm treatment finally stops the potentially fatal heartworm disease, even if it does not stop mosquitoes from biting your pet or the spread of heartworm larvae.

In honor of National Heartworm Awareness Month, investigate heartworm preventive options for your pet. Give our team a call to discuss the heartworm preventive that will best keep your four-legged pal safe from disease.