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You’ve probably heard of “heartworm” disease, but what do you really know about it? Heartworm is a dangerous disease and should be a genuine concern for you if you’re a dog owner. Luckily, prevention is easy and affordable.
What is Heartworm Disease?
Once considered a parasite mainly of southern climates, heartworm disease is now considered a real risk for pets in all 50 states. Unfortunately, it is estimated that 1 million dogs in the U.S. suffer with heart- worm disease today.
Heartworm is a life-threatening parasite transmitted by mosquitoes and is caused by worms that manifest themselves in your dog’s heart, lungs, and arteries. These parasites will mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring. If left untreated, their numbers can increase to several hundred worms and may grow to be 14-inch-long adults.
What Does This Mean?
These parasites can cause severe lung disease, heart failure, and damage to other organs. Heartworm disease can greatly affect your dog’s health and quality of life - and can even lead to death.
If contracted, heartworm treatment is available, but it is not guaranteed to cure the disease. The course of treatment is unpleasant – and the entire process takes at least 60 days to complete. And, that’s not it. It can take many months until the disease’s symptoms appear – and about 6 months after being bitten by an infected mosquito for a dog to test positive for the disease. Your dog must be retested 6 months after completing treatment to ensure that all of the worms and larvae are dead. Dogs that remain heartworm-positive 6 months after treatment may need to repeat treatment to kill the remaining parasites.
What Can You Do?
Even as serious as heartworm disease is, there is good news!
April is recognized as Heartworm Prevention Month – and our doctors and The American Heartworm Society (AHS) want you to know that prevention is not only possible – it’s simple. Astonishingly, only 55 percent of U.S. dog-owning households are on a heartworm preventative. We want you to help increase this percentage!
Prevention is Key!
The best way to prevent your pet from contracting heartworm is through year-round regular preventative care and annual testing. By administering a heartworm preventative, your dog can be protected against this deadly disease.
Always remember that preventative treatment is safe, easy, and inexpensive compared to treating your pet after the disease has manifested. It’s so much better to be safe, rather than sorry! Give your beloved pet the best possible chance at life by beginning heartworm preventative treatment today. For more information, ask any member of our veterinary team.
The best offense against heartworm disease is a good defense! Follow AHS recommendations and Think 12: Give heartworm preventatives 12 months a year and test your dog every 12 months.
Copyright 2016 PawsTime • April 2016