Reducing the Risk of the Dog Heartworm Mosquito
- Examine trees on your property and identify any tree holes.
- Fill the holes with dirt or water absorbing polymer crystals that are available at local nurseries or garden departments. Consult an arborist for additional ways to prevent water collection in tree holes.
- Clear debris from gutters to allow water to flow out of gutters.
- Dump out standing water that collects in cans, buckets, toys and tires because the Western tree hole mosquito can develop from egg to adult in artificial containers.
- Make sure window screens are free of rips or tears because tree hole mosquitoes have been known to try to come into homes during the day.
How Dogs Become Infected with Heartworm Disease
Canine heartworm disease is caused by a roundworm and is a serious and possibly fatal veterinary problem associated with dogs, coyotes, and foxes. A tree hole mosquito bites a dog, coyote or fox that is already infected with heartworm. That mosquito becomes infected with the microfilariae (immature stage of the heartworm parasite), and can then bite and infect a different dog.
Veterinary products are available to prevent the disease and it is curable if diagnosed in the early stages. In Contra Costa County, the time of highest risk for dogs to contract heartworm is March through August, however unseasonable rain and warm weather may extend this period.
The key is to take proactive steps to reduce the risk of dog heartworm by preventing mosquitoes now. Reduce the number of places where the Western tree hole mosquito can develop from egg to biting adult and consult your dog’s veterinarian.