Heartworm is a serious medical concern for all dogs and cats. The Heartworm infection is spread by mosquitoes, so even indoor patients can be infected. It is a silent killer, because the disease is very advanced by the time symptoms occur.
Your dog or cat can become infected with one mosquito bite. When an infected mosquito bites your pet, a larva is injected into the body. This larva matures at it migrates through your pets body on its journey to the heart. At this location, the mature heartworm can breed. Over time, there can be a huge number of these parasites in your pet’s heart. They also migrate to other tissues such as liver and lungs, causing damage there.
Common symptoms include coughing, exhaustion, panting, exercise intolerance, vomiting, and sudden death. In dogs, many heartworms must be present for these symptoms to occur, especially for larger dogs. In cats, only 1-2 heartworms can result in death.
Heartworm disease can be avoided by having your cherished dog or cat on monthly preventatives. Our clinic carries Advantage multi for cats. This is a topical product that also gives flea prevention, dewormer, and ear mite prevention. For dogs we offer both oral Heartguard and Trifexis. Both of these products include preventatives for common internal parasites such as roundworm and hookworm. Trifexis also includes flea control.
All that is needed to start your companion on Heartworm prevention is a simple blood test. This test will be repeated annually to make sure that your pet is safe. If your dog or cat is under 6 months of age, he or she doesn’t need to be tested.
In dogs, Heartworm is treated using a medication that is based on arsenic. Treatment takes several months, and can also result in health issues and even death for your buddy. The drug is no longer being made in the United States, so it is difficult to acquire. It is also very expensive to treat. For cats, there is no treatment.
For the wellness of your pets, please make monthly Heartworm prevention a part of your preventative care routine for your dog and/or cat.