April is National Heartworm Awareness Month so we believe it would make sense to talk about this serious issue.
What is heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease is a feline and canine illness caused by a worm named Dirofilaria immitis. Heartworm disease is caused by parasites that live in the lungs and heart of pets and cause lung disease, heart failure and possibly other organ failure.
Can my pet get heartworms?
Heartworm disease has been reported in all states in the United States but is more predominant in the hotter, humid areas in the east and southeast. Last year, just in Georgia alone, 8,546 animals tested positive (these results were only the cases that were properly reported)
How are heartworms transmitted? Heartworm are transmitted through a mosquito bite. The host mosquito bites an infected animal, it swallows baby parasites that will mature within 10 days. As soon as the infected mosquito bites another dog or cat, the infected worms are transmitted to a new pet and they get infected.
What are the most common symptoms of heartworm disease?
In the initial stages, many pets show few symptoms or no symptoms at all. The longer the infection continues, the more likely symptoms will progress.
Signs of heartworm disease may include:
Fatigue after moderate activity,
As heartworm disease advances, pets may show signs of heart failure and a swollen stomach due to excess fluid in the abdomen. Dogs with large numbers of heartworms can develop sudden blockages of blood flow within the heart leading to a life-threatening form of cardiovascular collapse.
How is this disease treated? Heartworms can be detected by blood test. It is easy to detect but not that easy to treat. The idea is to get rid of these parasite before organs are affected. It is very important to monitor your pet and keep them quiet and confined during treatment as the possibility of organ damage from the dying worms is high.
How can you prevent heartworms?
Heartworms can be prevented by administering regular doses of heartworm medications like Heartgard, Sentinel, Revolution or even injections like Proheart6. These drugs are designed to kill the larvae before they grow into worms. The usage of a flea medication with mosquito repellant such as Vectra 3D and a monthly heartworm preventative have been proven to be the best combination to inhibit the spread of this disease. We highly recommend testing your pets at least once a year.
For the month of April 2019, for Heartworm Awareness Month, Town & Country West Veterinary Clinic will be offering free heartworm tests when your pets get a Proheart6 injection. A physical examination is required if pet has not been examined by a Doctor within a year.
To read more about Proheart6 click on the link below: