April is National Heartworm Awareness Month
What is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm is a potentially fatal disease most commonly found in dogs. It is occasionally found in cats and ferrets and rarely found in humans. It is caused by worms that live in the heart and lungs causing heart failure and lung disease. They can also travel throughout the body, via the blood vessels, causing damage to other organs.
How is Heartworm Disease Transmitted?
Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitos. When an animal infected with Heartworm is bitten by a mosquito, the mosquito picks up immature Heartworms (called microfilaria) in its blood meal. Once these microfilaria mature into larvae (over 10-14 days in the mosquito), they are transferred through the bite wound to the animal the mosquito bites for its next meal. These larvae then take approximately six months to mature into adult Heartworms.
Annual Care Is Important for Exotic Pets, Too
While it is true that rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and other pocket pets do not need vaccinations every year like cats and dogs, they still need routine physical exams. They age quickly, and with their small body size, medical problems can escalate quickly into life threatening situations.
Improper nutrition and husbandry cause the majority of health problems in rabbits and cavies. At their annual exam, our doctors will do a dietary assessment and advise on the best nutrition for your pet.
Proper husbandry is also very important. The different species have different requirements. We will guide you in the best care and housing for your pet.
Spaying and neutering can prevent many health related problems. Rabbits are prone to mammary and uterine cancers. Spaying at a young age practically eliminates this risk and also prevents unwanted litters. Rabbits can be territorial, and attempts to keep unneutered rabbits together often results in fights and injuries.