Be Your Dog’s Best Friend

first_imgNolan said weather patterns this year have been favorable for mosquitoes. Therelatively warm winter didn’t kill mosquito eggs as bitter cold does. And frequent rainleaves lots of puddles where mosquitoes breed. A preventive for cats has recently been released to veterinarians for prescription. “Onlyabout 10 percent of cats will become infected,” Strickland said. “But it’s a much moreserious condition in cats, with poor treatment options.” Nolan said getting rid of small water areas is the best way to control mosquitoes aroundyour home. “Almost every dog, if it lives long enough, will get heartworms,” Strickland said.”Truly, an ounce of prevention is worth many pounds of cure.” Extension entomologist Maxcy Nolan said mosquitoes are plentiful this year. “Someyears the mosquito population is up, and some years it’s down,” he said. “This year it’sdefinitely up.” “Heartworms are the No. 1 killer of dogs besides cars,” said Dr. Jim Strickland, aveterinarian with the University of Georgia Extension Service. “And it’s almostcompletely preventable.” The best way to treat animals, Strickland said, is to prevent the heartworms frombecoming adults. Preventive medicines use tiny doses of insecticides to kill the larvaein the animal. The adult heartworms take up space in the heart, preventing it from workingefficiently. They eventually cause death by congestive heart failure. Your vet can treatpets for adult heartworms, but the procedure is costly and risky. He recommends, though, that pet owners get their pets tested for these and otherparasites every two to three years. Although the preventives are effective, some larvaemay survive and grow to adults. You may not fret much about heartworms. But if dogs and cats could worry aboutthem, they would.center_img An early spring and plenty of standing water this year provided plenty of breedingareas for mosquitoes. These bloodsuckers don’t just bite. They carry many diseases,including heartworms. “Mosquitoes probably don’t move more than a few hundred feet from where they werebred and developed.” Preventing their development is the most effective way to reducetheir number. Heartworms kill thousands of dogs and some cats every year. In the Southeast, wheremosquitoes thrive nearly year-round, animals can become infected during any season. Strickland said the heartworm goes through a year-long life cycle. The parasite relieson mosquitoes to carry it from one animal to another. “Once the larva is transmitted into an animal, it stays in the bloodstream and movesinto the heart, where it becomes an adult,” Strickland said. “The smaller the area of water, whether in a puddle, a bucket or even a tree hole, themore concentrated the number of mosquito larvae,” Nolan said. In spite of popular belief, ponds and small lakes aren’t mosquito nurseries. These largerwater areas usually have wind blowing across them that drown mosquito larvae. Andthey contain fish that eat the developing insects. Repellent sprays, Nolan said, work on your pets as well as they work on you. Contactyour county agent to learn more about controlling mosquitoes around your home.last_img

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