Mosquitoes transmit life-threatening heartworm disease to dogs and cats. They are generally known to carry a variety of serious diseases but which mosquito species are prevalent in our community and what does this mean for the safety of our pets? Ventura County is typically home to 15 common species of mosquitoes. Of these, the species Aedes sierrensis, or Western Treehole Mosquito, is known to carry heartworm disease. These mosquitoes reside in water-filled tree holes or containers and are highly adaptable to varying weather and feeding conditions. Los Angeles County is also home to the Western Treehole Mosquito in addition to the heartworm-carrying Aedes notoscriptus species. Also known as the Australian Backyard Mosquito, this species thrives in water-filled containers in urban environments.

What does this mean for the dogs and cats in our community? They are threatened. Heartworms can grow up to 10-12 inches long and cause severe complications. In dogs, they typically live in the right side of the heart and vessels of the lungs. Our hospital has managed and treated multiple cases of heartworm disease. Last year, we treated a German Shepherd named Sam after finding heartworms in his pulmonary artery. Heartworm treatment is lengthy and Sam's severe activity restriction over the course of two and a half months was very difficult on him and his owner. We are pleased to report that Sam is currently happy, healthy, and receiving a veterinary-guaranteed monthly heartworm prevention. Click here to read more about Sam's story.

Heartworm disease is complicated. Prevention is simple. We recommend a once monthly heartworm preventative for all dogs and cats regardless of their lifestyle. The average cost for heartworm prevention is less than $9 per month. A thriving, safe community is priceless. Protect your pet now. Home is not where heartworm disease is... if we prevent it.

Find out more about mosquitoes and mosquito-related diseases in our community from the Ventura County Environmental Health Division. Learn more about mosquitoes in Los Angeles County from the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District.