Flood waters could mean higher risk for heartworm

By Amanda Hanson - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- The water has gone down from recent flooding leaving in its wake prime breeding ground for mosquitoes. And it's those annoying bugs that transfer the heartworm disease from one pet to another, which makes it extra important for pet owners to take precautions.

Pet owner Ruth Owens and her dog Misty made a trip to the vet Wednesday afternoon. While Misty has never had heartworms, Owens knows just how tough it can be on a pet. She once rescued a dog that had been exposed to the disease. "It was very tough she was here for quite a while," said Owens.

With the ground still saturated from the recent flooding, Owens worries the mosquitoes might come with it. "With so much moisture, I'm sure those eggs are hatching right now, and those mosquitoes are going to be everywhere pretty soon," said Owens.

Veterinarian Sara Rowland says more mosquitoes could have deadly consequences to pets in Region 8. "The only way heartworms are spread is through mosquitoes," said Rowland. She says the flooding will bring more risk. "There is more of a risk now, and it's because the heartworms are changing, and they're doing a lot of research in Alabama even on mosquitoes in this area."

Rowland says it's something animals test positive for on a regular basis. "If not daily we do see it multiple times a week. I had one earlier today," said Rowland.

Rowland says it's important keep your animal on a monthly preventative and recommends getting your pet tested every six months. She says the earliest it's caught the easier it is to treat.

As for Owens, she plans to do everything she can to keep Misty safe. "She's not so much outside but the preventatives are really good. She just stays on the preventative all the time," said Owens.

Rowland says in addition to vaccinations, spaying and neutering, the most important thing is to have your pet on a monthly heartworm preventative, and you should start your pet on them as early as eight to nine weeks old.

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