Keep your pets safe during mosquito season

Posted at 12:04 PM, Aug 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-13 12:04:11-04

The threat of the Zika virus is making headlines.

Zika has not been detected in mosquitoes in Virginia, but local mosquito spraying companies have been receiving more services calls in Virginia Beach, specifically the Little Neck, Great Neck, and Pungo areas.

Some pet owners are wondering if the Zika virus could spread to their dogs and cats.

RELATED: The three things you need to do to protect against the Zika virus

While veterinarians are unsure how or if the disease affects pets, but BluePearl Veterinary Partners say dogs and cats face a different danger from mosquitoes–heartworm.

Dogs and cats can get heartworm when they are bitten by mosquitoes that have been infected by heartworm larvae. Once they animals are infected, worms will grow inside of the pets bodies, causing serious health issues.

Luckily, heartworm is easily preventable.

“Heartworm prevention is a cornerstone of proper veterinary care,” said BluePearl’s Dr. Erick Mears, the medical director of BluePearl’s Florida hospitals.

In dogs, the worms can grow in the heart and take up so much space that the heart has difficulty drawing in enough blood to circulate throughout the body.

Worms can also travel into a dog’s lungs, but cats are more likely to be affected through the lungs. Even a small number of worms in cats can cause major problems.

Signs of heartworm in dog include coughing, vomiting, loss of appetite and lethargy.

Dr. Mears says pet owners should talk to their veterinarians to see which heartworm medicine is best suited for their pets.

It can be difficult to prevent your pet from getting bit buy mosquitoes, especially in warmer areas. Vets say proper medicine is the best solution to keep pets safe.