Man's best friend targeted by mosquitos - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Man's best friend targeted by mosquitos

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Albany - Mosquito larvae, growing in standing water left behind from the recent flooding, are now turning into adults. The blood sucking insects are looking for a good meal. You must not only protect yourself from the disease carrying pest, but also your pets.

When Tim Spraggins's Husky A.J. start wheezing and coughing shortly after another one of his dogs mysteriously died, he immediately feared the worst. "Since I had lost the female the week before, I wanted to know if she had something. Was he going to be next," said Spraggins.

Spraggins brought A.J. to Veterinarian Dr. Ira Roth. The dog was diagnosed with heartworm disease. "He going to have treatment for two days," said Spraggins.

"It's a tremendous problem," said Dr. Roth. Dr. Roth says heartworm disease is common in the South because mosquitos that carry the disease thrive in the hot, humid conditions. "If your cat or dog isn't on heartworm preventive, we can pretty much guarantee it will be exposed to mosquitoes carrying the heartworm disease."

Signs your dogs may have heartworm disease include respiratory problems and sluggish behavior. But for cats, the signs are vague. "In fact, the number one presenting problem with cats with heartworm disease is sudden death, literally the cat's fine one minute and you come back and the cat has died," said Dr. Roth.

The best way to keep your pet heartworm free is to give it a monthly preventive treatment, such as Heartgard. The medicine isn't cheap, but neither is the vet bill to treat heartworm disease. "It's going to cost me more than I paid for the dog to take care of him," said Dr. Roth.

Indoor pets are also at risk, just one mosquito can spread heartworm disease. So, Dr. Roth suggests pampering your pet by taking take of its health.

Mosquitoes can also spread West Nile Virus to dogs, cats, birds, and other pets. There's no way to stop mosquitos from biting your pet. Dr.Roth says just keep an eye on your pet's health and see a professional if symptoms arise.

posted by kathryn.murchison@walb.com