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Heartworms and Fleas

Heartworms and Fleas

How Heartworms and Fleas Affect Dogs

Heartworms and fleas are two different pests that can affect your dog.  First, heartworms are parasites which usually live inside the heart and lungs of dogs. They were first discovered in the mid-nineteenth century in the southeastern region of America. Infected mosquitos are responsible for spreading heartworm larvae. A heartworm larva can take up to 7 months to mature.

Unlike heartworms, fleas stay on the surface of the skin. Classified as a parasite, fleas take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks to hatch, and must feed before they can reproduce. Fleas are also able to transfer easily from one host to another since they live on the skins surface. One of the oldest parasites in existence, fleas have been around for a long time.  Fleas evolved from larger parasitic creatures that existed during the Jurassic period.

The effects of heartworms and fleas on dogs are very different. Heartworm can cause respiratory problems, nausea, muscle fatigue, and severe weight loss. Fleas generally cause irritation of the skin and can be more of a nuisance than any serious threat. However, fleas can cause infections and spread disease.  Despite this, the severity of fleas’ effects on dogs is minimal compared to heartworms.

Heartworm and Flea Facts

The following statistics are for heartworms and fleas. While both parasites can pose a health risk, heartworms can cause lasting and possibly fatal internal damage.

  • Dogs are 100 percent likely to contract heartworms when bitten by an infected mosquito.
  • Heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years.
  • Heartworms cannot be passed from one host to another.
  • It takes up to 6 to 8 months For a dog to show signs of heartworms.
  • Heartworms can cause muscle weakness, nausea, and severe respiratory issues.
  • Flea bites can cause anemia, severe itching, and infections.
  • Fleas have to feed before they can reproduce.
  • A mature flea can live up to 100 days without feeding.
  • Fleas consume many times their body weight each day.
  • There is one primary species of flea that accounts for the majority of infestations in the US.

To insure the health and hygiene of your dog it is important to be aware of the risks that can occur at home and in different environments. Taking preventative measures can help to keep your dog safe and at less risk of contracting heartworms an fleas.

How Do Dogs Get Heartworms?