This magnified image (above) is of a mosquito proboscis, or nose.
So much for Eskimo kisses.
(Note to self: Buy bug spray.)
Slightly less scary is the leg.
Mosquitos and Your Dog
If a mosquito carrying babies (called microfilariae) bites your dog, these microfilariae get injected into the bloodstream. The picture at the right is what one looks like under a microscope.
The microfilariae will continue to grow inside your dog. They will eventually develop into worms (up to 12″ long) and those settle in the heart.
Scientists must have been in a hurry the day they named this organism.
This picture (and the video below) were taken in our clinic from a dog living in the Waterloo – Cedar Falls, Iowa area.
Are Heartworms Contagious?
Only mosquitos transmit heartworm. An infected dog can’t “pass it” to another pet or to you. Your dog can’t get heartworm from eating poop either (they can get loads of other things from doing that).
Can you get heartworm from a mosquito bite? In theory, yes, but fortunately for us, microfilariae don’t seem to like humans as much as our pets. They are usually killed off before they settle in the heart and lungs in humans.
If you want to see what can be in your dog’s bloodstream, watch our microfilaria video (a live, mosquito baby).
We can’t stress enough the importance of giving your dog a monthly heartworm preventive. Yes, it costs money, but look what you are preventing (see above pictures and videos)!
Why year round? Great question.
Most heartworm medicine contains ingredients that help prevent other intestinal parasites. Things your dog can get year round. You aren’t alone if your dog likes to dine on little poo treats from time to time.
Another reason has to do with us–as much as we try, humans are prone to distractions. We forget things. Getting into the routine of giving your dog a heartworm chew once a month is difficult. Starting and stopping that routine based on upredictable Iowa weather is even more so.
The American Heartworm Society has great educational resources if you are interested in learning more about heartworm. And the FDA has a great fact sheet on mosquitos and heartworm prevention as well.