How to Prevent Heartworm
What Are the Dangerous Statistics Concerning Heartworm in Pets?
The statistics concerning heartworm in dogs and cats is alarming, especially since this is a preventable condition. Experts have found heartworm infections in pets in all 50 states because it is transmitted by infected mosquitoes that carry the larvae that will enter an animal's bloodstream before traveling to the heart. Approximately, one in 200 puppies or dogs will have heartworm at some time in an animal's life, but felines are infected less often. You might think that keeping a pet inside your home is a way to avoid this dangerous condition, but this is not true according to our research.
What Are the Symptoms of Having a Heartworm Infection?
We suggest that pet owners understand the signs of having heartworm in dogs to begin an effective treatment right away. Some of the symptoms from these parasites include:
• Unexplained weight loss
• Poor appetite
• Chronic fatigue
• Inability to exercise
• Constant coughing
During an examination by one of our veterinarians, we can determine if your pet has an enlarged heart that indicates an infestation of heartworms is present. If a pet has an enlarged heart, then it is at a higher risk of having sudden death from the heartworm infection.
Is Heartworm Preventable in Canines and Felines?
It is simple to prevent heartworm in dogs or felines with an inexpensive medication that will disrupt the life cycle of the larvae that are transmitted by the infected mosquitoes. For mild or early infections, the medicine used to prevent an infestation in the first place is often helpful. Our veterinarians will offer advice concerning how to care for a pet that is infected with heartworms.
What Is Heartworm and What Are the Stages of This Type of Parasite?
Heartworm is a type of roundworm parasitical infection that begins with small thread-like worms, but these worms will continue to grow. These parasites can also infest wildlife mammals, including marine animals that are bitten by the infected mosquitoes. In rare cases, humans have also had heartworm infections. The heartworms primarily infect the heart or the lungs, causing an assortment of health problems. Without medication, the heartworms grow or multiply, leading to congestive heart failure. The heartworms have several life stages that require approximately seven months before the adult parasites are able to reproduce. Several of these life stages are highly dependent on having a temperature that is warm enough, and with the year-round warm weather in south Florida, heartworm infections are more common than in colder regions.
How to Prevent or Treat Heartworm Infections
Preventing heartworm infections is imperative to avoid having a pet with a serious health issue that affects the functions of the kidneys, the liver or the heart. Pets that have infections must take a medicine that contains an arsenic-based compound that will destroy the heartworms. This medication can have side effects that make an animal have problems such as lethargy or nausea. After the heartworms in the body are dead, the dog or the cat must rest to ensure that the dead bodies of the worms are absorbed by the animal rather than dislodging to cause breathing problems that can lead to death. This process eliminates the adult heartworms, but additional treatment is required to destroy the tiny immature heartworms. In some cases, a veterinarian will need to perform surgery to remove an adult heartworm that is located in a dangerous area of the animal's body. Preventing heartworm infections is easy with a chewable tablet that also prevents infection from other types of worms in addition to fleas. In our region of Florida, you should provide a course of treatment every month to prevent an infection from heartworms. If you have cats as pets, then you should also seek a preventative medication for the animals. Felines that are infected with heartworms are more likely to have complication signs such as respiratory distress or vomiting that can lead to death.
Testing for Heartworm So That a Pet Can Overcome the Infection
If you fail to prevent heartworm infections with the proper medicine, then it is possible to test for the condition with a blood smear that we look at underneath a microscope. At our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Davie in south Florida, we are offering a blood test special with a vaccination for heartworm prevention so that pet owners can learn if their cats and dogs are healthy. Contact us at Pet Express Animal Hospital at 954-653-6868 today to schedule appointments for your pets.