Traveling With Your Dog: 5 Pointers to Prevent Canine Heartworm Disease
Do you have any plans of traveling with your dog soon? If you do, then you should know that dogs can acquire certain diseases when they travel with you. One of the most common diseases that can infect them is Heartworm Disease, a harmful, even fatal condition affecting the heart and lungs of dogs.
Canine heartworm infection occurs when a mosquito, carrying heartworm larvae, bites a dog. Thousands of dogs suffer from it each year according to several reports.
Geographically, heartworms are a potential threat worldwide. They can cause infection in every US state except Alaska, and in many other countries. A survey in 2004 says that the biggest number of canine heartworm disease cases were seen in the southeastern U.S. and the Mississippi River Valley. This means that dogs living in or within these areas have greater risks of getting the disease; but this does not necessarily mean that areas outside these perimeters are heartworm-free. With more people traveling with their pets across the country, either to take a vacation or to visit family, relatives and friends, there is no assurance that a dog is safe from heartworm ifection.
The Risk of Traveling
"Heartworm disease spreads as more dogs travel from state to state," banners the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) on its website. AVMA explains that the problem arises when a dog from a heartworm-endemic state travels with his owner to a low-incidence state. Because the signs of heartworm disease are only detected in the later stages, the owner travels without knowing that his dog is infected and has a tendency to spread the disease to a local dog - a mosquito bite is all it takes to transmit the disease to another! The local dog then becomes a carrier of the disease and the cycle continues. In the same way, if a dog from a low-incidence state travels to a state where the incidence of the disease is very prevalent and gets bitten by a larvae-carrying mosquito, then it also presents a problem. It brings the disease back home and spreads this to other dogs.
5 Pointers for Prevention
Knowing the threat of heartworm disease, all dog owners should therefore be responsible to care for their pets' health. When traveling, an owner can help protect his or her dog from heartworm disease through 5 ways:
- Have the pet checked by a licensed veterinarian. The vet will check for presence of diseases, including heartworm disease. If the dog is found to be healthy and heartworm-free, the vet can recommend preventive measures - prevention is always the best way to protect a dog at home and during travels.
- Get an up-to-date health certificate from the vet as this is required by most states for people traveling with their pets.
- Revisit the vet upon coming home from a trip. The pet should be examined again for any sign/symptom of possible infection of parasites such as ticks, fleas, and etc.
- Very important: Regardless whether a pet is traveling or not, protect it by using medications such as Heartgard and Revolution, which both prevent and control heartworm infection.
- It is always good to have the pet regularly tested for heartworm to ensure proper prevention.
Once you have done the preventive measures cited above, you will feel pretty much confident to travel because you are assured that your pet is protected from heartworm disease.
Pack your bags and fill up your car's tank full. Are you now ready to travel with your pet the heartworm-free way? Can you suggest other ways for heartworm disease prevention while you make that ultimate trip with your favorite pet?