It's March — springtime is around the corner! Worms in your garden…and worms in your pet? Eeew! Hold on, let's explain…

The worms you find in your garden mulch are not the same worms that cause heartworm disease in pets. Mosquitoes carry heartworms. And all it takes is one mosquito to bite your pet to become infected.

heartworm-diagram-dogHere’s the good news about heartworm disease: It's an illness that can be easy and affordable to prevent. The bad news is, if you don't prevent it the right way, your pet is at high risk of getting sick. Heartworm disease is dangerous to your pet and some signs of the illness are tough to spot. Your pet may be acting fine, but they may have so many heartworms inside their body that it can become life threatening.

Did you know that some of your pet's behaviors may be related to a hidden illness and you may not even realize it?

Nipping. Scratching. Litter box issues. Leash pulling. Meowing at night. Urinating on the floor. Chewing shoes. Are these behaviors just part of being a "normal" dog or cat, or not?

Dog Pulling on LeashActually, some common behavioral issues are due to underlying medical problems. And these illnesses are tough to recognize even for the most observant owners. For example, if your dog urinates on the floor, it may be from excitement, but it also can be from a urinary tract infection. If your cat stops jumping on your lap, it may not be because your cat is being unfriendly, but because he or she has arthritis and jumping is too painful on the joints.

If these behaviors are left unchecked, it's a triple issue. The behavior may worsen, the underlying illness may progress (which puts your pet's health at risk), and most importantly, your pet's quality of life as part of your family is compromised.