Mosquitoes are attracted to humid climates and bodies of water, making Chicago an ideal breeding ground for these pests. However, mosquitoes do not need balmy weather to thrive—they can go dormant under cold conditions and reemerge when the temperature rises. Thus, they remain a threat even during the fall and winter seasons. This means that mosquitoes can transmit heartworm disease to countless unprotected hosts virtually year-round.
At South Loop Animal Hospital, we take heartworm prevention very seriously. Heartworm disease is a progressive disease that can be fatal for pets that do not receive timely treatment. Therefore, we highly recommend annual heartworm testing and year-round prevention to curb the spread of this disease.
How Are Pets Infected?
A mosquito becomes infected with worm larvae when it bites an already-infected host. Mosquitoes carrying roundworm larvae called microfilaria can pass these larvae to another host by taking a blood meal. Once transmitted, the larvae will enter and circulate through the host’s bloodstream, eventually finding their way to the heart and major blood vessels.
Heartworms mature within 6 months and can live in their hosts for several years. During this time, they will mate and produce offspring. As their numbers multiply, they cause lasting damage to the heart, lungs, and arteries.
Is Heartworm Disease Treatable?
Yes. However, if treatment comes late, your pet’s health will remain affected for the rest of their life. The sooner the treatment, the better the outcome. That being said, heartworm disease treatment is very costly and requires repeat visits. The best possible treatment you can opt for is total prevention.
Our doctors recommend keeping your pet on heartworm preventives all 12 months out of the year. This ensures that there are no gaps in their treatment and reduces their risk of infection significantly. Furthermore, pets should be tested for heartworm infection annually. Even with the smallest possible risk of infection, 100% protection is not a guarantee.
Our hospital offers a variety of heartworm prevention options. If you have questions about them, please call us at (312) 753-5551 for more information. Our goal is to keep your pet heartworm-negative for life!