Mosquito season is coming, and with the wet winter we’ve had, it’s bound to be a very bad year. Now is the time to protect your dogs from heartworms.

According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in that is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body.

Dogs can only get heartworms from the bite of an infected mosquito. They cannot get it from other animals or spread it to others.

The dog is a natural host for heartworms. If untreated, dogs have been known to harbor several hundred worms in their bodies. Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. For this reason, prevention is by far the best option, and treatment, when needed, should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible.

Prevention is the key

Dogs may go for up to seven months after being infected with no symptoms. That’s why it’s so important that your veterinarian test your dogs and recommend the appropriate prevention or treatment. Monthly preventions (pills, topical or injections) can cost as little as $35 to $80 a year, while treatment can easily run into thousands and the death of a beloved animal.

The American Heartworm Society recommends year-round heartworm prevention, so start now.

For more information, visit the American Heartworm Society or WebMD.

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