Yes, dogs can get heartworms from drinking water with mosquito larvae. The key is that the infection doesn’t always come from mosquitoes. Heartworm disease is transmitted to dogs in two ways: by mosquitoes and when a dog licks/bites a worm that has been in the environment for an extended period (e.g., dried-up leaves on the ground).
Almost all mosquito species in the United States can transmit heartworm disease to dogs. Mosquitoes must feed on a dog’s blood during the first five days of its life for it to become infected with heartworms.
They also must feed five or more times within 14 days following infection for the larvae to mature and survive in the environment until they make their way into an unlucky animal’s bloodstream, causing an infection.
Do mosquito larvae carry heartworms?
No, not always. Eggs of some mosquito species are viable for only a short time. Mosquitoes that can transmit heartworm disease to dogs include black and southern mosquitoes (Anopheles), western fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis), and deerflies (Chrysops).
Once a mosquito has infected a dog, it must lay eggs within 48 hours of feeding on infected blood. The eggs will hatch within 7 days if the temperature remains warm and moist. If the weather is cold (less than 50 degrees F) for 2 weeks, the resulting larvae will not mature and become infective. The larvae must also remain in contact with the soil for at least 4 to 6 months before returning to an infective state.
Can dogs drink mosquito larvae?
No. Although mosquitoes usually don’t lay their eggs in stagnant water, larvae can hatch and thrive in small water containers. Dogs can become infected if they drink from these sources. But it’s not the most common method of transmission. The most common method is through a mosquito bite.
What happens if you drink water that has mosquito larvae?
If your dog drank water containing mosquito larvae, your dog’s immune system would be unable to fight off the attack. Liver and kidney damage is the most common infection symptom with larval mosquitoes.
If an infected mosquito bites your dog, your dog will become infected quickly and develop symptoms within 24 hours (if the bite took place no more than 7 days prior). Symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, coughing, loss of appetite, and fever.
How is heartworm disease transmitted from one pet to another?
Dogs can get heartworms from drinking water with mosquito larvae. The key is that the infection doesn’t always come from mosquitoes. Heartworm disease is transmitted to dogs in two ways: by mosquitoes and when a dog licks/bites a worm that has been in the environment for an extended period (e.g., dried-up leaves on the ground).
Almost all mosquito species in the United States can transmit heartworm disease to dogs. When a mosquito bites and takes a blood meal from an infected animal, it picks up these baby worms, which develop and mature into “infective stage” larvae over 10 to 14 days.
Then, when the infected mosquito bites another dog, cat, or susceptible wild animal, the infective larvae are deposited onto the surface of the animal’s skin and enter the new host through the mosquito’s bite wound. Once inside a new host, it takes approximately 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms.
Once mature, heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats. Because of the longevity of these worms, each mosquito season can lead to an increasing number of worms in an infected pet.
10 ways to protect dogs from mosquito larvae and heartworms
- Don’t let mosquitoes come on your property.
- You can use a mosquito-control product designed to kill larvae.
- Products designed to kill mosquito larvae include Bti (Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis), BTI, and BTS (Bacillus Thuringiensis Subsp.
- Ensure you remove all standing water or containers near your yard (outdoors).
- Keep dogs off chicken coops, barns, ponds, and ditches where mosquito larvae can thrive.
- Make sure that your home is well-ventilated.
- Mosquitoes need temperatures above 50 degrees to lay their eggs.
- You can keep the window screen down so that it won’t blow in or out at night when the mosquitoes are most active, but you still can allow some cool breeze to come in during warm evenings.
- Make sure that the area around your pets’ houses is well-kept and free of piles of yard waste, leaves, and weeds that might provide mosquito larvae with a free, food-rich habitat to grow in.
- Dogs should not be allowed to roam freely late afternoon and evening.
Don’t let your pets drink mosquito larvae water. If you live in areas prone to mosquitoes, ensure there is no standing water on your property. Make sure your outdoor pets have a safe place to get shade and fresh air in the evenings and at night. If possible, keep them inside after dark, so they do not encounter mosquito larvae or other weather-related dangers.