As we approach the end of the summer season, I would like to talk about the emerging prevalence of a non-native mosquito species, the Asian tiger mosquito. This year was the first year I myself had started to see this type of mosquito in Northeast Ohio. My observation of this pest is that they are aggressive even during daylight and have distinct black and white striping on their legs and bodies.
The daytime activity level of these pests poses an increased threat of heartworm disease. Which means we must protect our animals from this risk now more than ever, especially in the more humid zones of the United States. These parasitic worms can infiltrate your dog's heart and lungs, causing serious health issues and, in severe cases, death.
Preventive medications prescribed by a veterinarian are the most effective way to prevent heartworm disease. There are several different types available, such as ingestible tablets, topical treatments, and injections. Most of these preventative medications are given to dogs on a monthly basis, with the exception of the injectable, which can be administered once every 6 or 12 months.
Your veterinarian can help you choose which preventative is right for your dog. It's also important to note that before starting any preventative, a blood test will be necessary to check for an active heartworm infection. Heartworm preventatives can cause harm to an already infected pet.
Lastly, it's important to have your dog tested for heartworm on a yearly basis, even if they are on preventive, as well as limit outdoor activities for your dog during peak mosquito weather conditions, such as days that have a high humidity and heat index.