The mosquito season is upon us! They aren’t just a nuisance; some mosquitoes may carry diseases that can cause Heartworm Disease or West Nile virus illness. Here are a few simple things that you can do to protect yourselves and your pets from mosquito-borne diseases.
Drain standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying
- Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
- Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used.
- Empty and clean birdbaths and pet’s water bowls at least once or twice a week.
- Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
- Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
Cover skin with clothing or mosquito repellent
- Clothing – Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeves. (Even though summer is approaching this type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.)
- Repellent – Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
- Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are effective.
- Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.
Keep mosquitoes out of your house
- Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.
- Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.
Make sure your pets are on heartworm prevention
Learn more about heartworm disease in Dr. Scribano’s video below. You can also read our Dog Heartworm Prevention page or Cat Heartworm Prevention page to find out more about preventing this devastating disease.
Mosquito-borne disease prevention information and Florida specific mosquito-borne disease information can be found at:
Video: “Heartworm Disease” (3:00)—Dr. Scribano talks about how pets get heartworms, their effects, and how we can help prevent them.
Featured Quote: “The oral once a month prevention methods are good, but they’re only good if you give it every single month and most of us are human, not superhuman.”
Hi, I’m Dr. Scribano from Northeast Animal Hospital. Today, we’re going to review some things about heartworms disease.
Dr. Scribano, how do our dogs and cats get heartworms?
Heartworms are transmitted through a mosquito bite. Even if I took blood out of an infected animal and injected into another animal, they won’t get heartworms. It has to go through the mosquito. The products that we sell have to be in their bloodstream, so that when a mosquito feeds and deposits larvae that they won’t make it to be an adult.
How do heartworms affect our pets?
Heartworms accumulate in the heart and the large vessels causing coughing and exercise intolerance. The problem is that those symptoms that you will see are far into the disease and it affects the large organs as well.
How do I know which product is the best to prevent heartworms?
That’s a great question, especially now. We are using more of the injectable form just from a compliance standpoint. The oral once a month prevention methods are good, but they’re only good if you give it every single month and most of us are human, not superhuman. When we do the statistics – when we read about them – it’s not favorable. The last one I heard was that 93% of all dogs that are positive, the owners say, “Well yes, but they’ve been on a preventative.” That kind of told me that they forgot when they forgot. Maybe six months ago you forgot to give it, maybe he got right back on it, but it let them be open to the mosquito bite six months ago. The orals work right, but you have to give them every month and the animal has to keep it down. Sometimes they might have an upset stomach or something like that or you might find them under your sofa. There’s all kinds of reasons, but the statistics don’t lie.
In the other compliance studies I’ve seen, they say that we’re successful somewhere around six or seven doses out of the entire year. I’m very much promoting the injectable form, so that I know they have guaranteed protection.
Do I need to use prevention year round?
Yes. Maybe in Canada or something of the Northern climates, the mosquitoes aren’t out, and so you can go off prevention certain times of the year and they’ll educate you on that. But here in Florida, absolutely, year round, lifelong.
How often should my pet have a heartworm test?
We test dogs annually and we do that through their annual blood work. The heartworm test is included when we do annual blood works. Not only do we get the benefit of an internal exam, but we can let you know if they are positive for heartworms. In the cat, it is not as significant because we can’t treat heartworms in the cat anyway.