August 15, 2019 TVAH

Preventing Heartworm in Your Pets

Summer brings warmer weather, and with warmer weather come mosquitoes. These insects can be annoying for you, but a bite from the wrong one could lead to serious illness or death for a pet. Mosquitoes can transmit a roundworm called “heartworm” that, left untreated, can lead to premature death. Learning how to prevent heartworm is essential to any pet owner, but especially those living in warmer clients with an abundance of mosquitoes. Note: Every US state has been affected by heartworm disease.

An ounce of prevention… As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is definitely true with regard to heartworm. While heartworms can be killed after they infect dogs, the treatment itself is no easy matter. Dead worms break apart into pieces, and can clog the pulmonary arteries. Dogs must be monitored closely during treatments, in case of a life-endangering blockage.

Treatment is not available for cats. They do mount an immune response to heartworms, but the same blockage issues plague cats and can kill them.

Obviously, prevention of heartworms is the preferable route. Since it takes about 51 days for microfilariae (larvae) to mature, we need to constantly interrupt this process. Heartworm preventives must be given on a regular cycle in order to accomplish that goal. If we can always disrupt the development of microfilariae, they won’t have a chance to mature into worms that are difficult and dangerous to eradicate. The cost of treating heartworms just once is more than the price of seven years of preventives!

Knowing the signs of a heartworm infection is also key. In cats, symptoms might be…

  • Sudden onset cough
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Cough
  • Weight loss

In dogs, you might notice…

  • A soft, dry cough
  • Rapid breathing
  • Bulging chest
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty with exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Collapse

If you notice these signs of heartworms, bring your pet to us right away. But let’s not let the problem get to that point! Get started on a regular heartworm preventive now, and follow the dosage schedule exactly as prescribed.

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