Heartworm disease has become a prominent threat to dogs in the past several years. With temperatures beginning to rise as summer approaches, the number of mosquitos begins to rise as well. Heartworms are a parasite that are spread by mosquitos and transmitted to canines and although rare, sometimes felines as well. These parasites buildup in the heart and lungs of the animal and if left untreated, will eventually lead to the death of the animal.
Heartworms are not detectable in feces unlike most other parasites that are common to canines. The only way to determine whether or not an animal has heartworms is through a blood test. In later stages of heartworm disease, some patients will begin to exhibit coughing, lethargy, and exercise intolerance. This disease, if left untreated, can cause lasting effects on the animal’s heart, lungs and arteries, even after the worms have been killed. It is important for owners to have their dog’s blood tested for heartworms at least once a year. Detecting the disease early is important to prevent serious complications to the animal.
The best way to battle heartworms is to prevent them. Prevention comes in many different forms that you can speak with our veterinarians about. Heartgard is the form of prevention that our clinic recommends for pet owners. It is a once monthly chewable morsel that contains pyrantel and ivermectin, two medications that prevent the growth of heartworms and other various intestinal parasites. It is recommended to give heartworm prevention year round, so there is no chance of your animal contracting the worms. If your pet does test positive for heartworms during a heartworm test, the treatment of the worms is an extensive and painful process for the animal. No owner wants to have to put their beloved pets through such an experience. Using heartworm prevention is the best way owners can stop this disease from harming their pet’s life. To find out more information regarding heartworms, visit https://www.heartwormsociety.org/.