Heartworm & Other Native Pests

Heartworm & Other Native Pests

There’s a common misconception that heartworm is not a problem in the Southwest. Heartworm is transferred to dogs through mosquito bites. With our warm weather, mosquitos pose a threat to our pets during every season. Mosquitos carrying heartworm, however, aren’t the only dangerous regional pests. Learn how you can protect your pets from heartworm and other dangers found in Tucson.

Parasites, Pests, and Other Desert Pet Dangers


To protect pets from heartworm, we recommend regular heartworm screening and year-round treatment with a heartworm preventative.

Colorado River Toads

Monsoon season not only increases mosquito populations, but the heavy rain also brings out Colorado River Toads. Also called Sonoran Desert Toads, these animals might appear non-threatening, but they are actually dangerous, as they excrete a powerful neurotoxin.
Symptoms of poisoning include drooling, head shaking, pawing at the face, reddened mucous membranes, trouble breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, vocalization, dilated pupils, seizures, collapse, and death. If you suspect your dog has had contact with a Colorado River Toad, seek treatment immediately.


Rattlesnakes are common in our area, and it’s not unusual for dogs who like to explore outside to encounter them. We recommend rattlesnake avoidance training for Tucson pups, but it’s also good to know what to look for and what to do in the event of a rattlesnake bite.
Symptoms are similar to those of toxic toad poisoning, but you will also see swelling, bruising, and puncture marks. Seek emergency care. Be careful when moving your pet. They will be in extreme pain and could bite when touched.

Valley Fever

An infection caused by a soil-dwelling fungus, valley fever can infect a large group of species, including humans and cats, but it’s common in dogs because they tend to sniff and dig in the dirt. Symptoms include coughing, lethargy, and limping.

Schedule an Appointment for Your Pet Today

When your pet needs care, Desert Paws Mobile Veterinary Clinic will come to you. We’ll make sure your pet has the proper protection against heartworm and other parasites and provide you with additional advice on keeping pets safe in our desert environment.