As the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic set in, it’s important to keep certain routines in place with our pets: walks and exercise, playtimes, grooming (including teeth brushing!), feeding times of course, and heartworm prevention.
Spring is here and summer is just around the corner, meaning mosquitoes will soon be buzzing about. Mosquitoes may seem like just another annoyance that we encounter while out for a walk with our dog, but mosquitoes pose a serious health risk to our pets.
Heartworm disease is a deadly disease that affects both dogs and cats. Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes when they feed on dogs, cats, or other animals, such as foxes or coyotes. While dogs are most often affected, it is important to know that cats can be affected too and should be on heartworm preventives too.
Heartworms have a complicated life cycle, but prevention is simple! Treatment is costly, can be life-threatening, and doesn’t always result in positive outcomes.
Because your veterinary clinic may not be open “business as usual” right now, it’s important to know and understand how your clinic is operating. While physical distancing is in place, veterinary healthcare teams are still here to help keep our pets healthy and protect them from heartworm disease this summer.
Some clinics are open for business, are still testing for heartworm disease, and will prescribe heartworm preventives that are suitable for your pet’s (and your) lifestyle.
Other clinics are closed for non-essential visits. These clinics may provide curbside or parking lot pickups of heartworm preventives—but please call ahead. Do not drop in to pick up preventives.
Some clinics are offering curbside care. These clinics may still be taking appointments for wellness and preventive checks, but without pet owners accompanying their pet into the clinic. Pets are brought inside by clinic staff, often using their own leashes or crates, while the owners wait outside in the car. After the appointment your pet will be returned to you along with prescribed heartworm preventives.
Many veterinary clinics are encouraging pet owners to pay in advance over the phone via credit card to promote physical distancing and limit contact with people.
Be sure to check with your veterinary healthcare team by calling or checking their social media channels to see what changes have been made to protect you (and them) during COVID-19.
Remember! Indoor cats and city dogs are no exception! Mosquitoes can easily enter your home as you come and go, a hole in a window screen can let a pesky mosquito in, and mosquitoes are still present in cities!
Your best defense to protect your pet is prevention. April is Heartworm Awareness Month, so while we’re practicing physical or social distancing, now is as good a time as any to call your veterinarian to find out how they are handling heartworm prevention this year.