Heartworm disease is a real threat to your loyal companion. The worms are spread by infected mosquitoes when they bite your pet. You can protect your pet from this parasite by administering preventatives and ensuring they are vaccinated against heartworms every 6 to 12 months. Remember that while your pet is on prevention medication, getting them tested approximately twice each year is still important.
What are the signs of heartworms?
Because heartworms are internal parasites, it can be a long time before the symptoms appear. The worms can survive in dogs for years as they are good hosts. Unfortunately, the longer your pet has worms, the worse the symptoms. Some symptoms you can look for include:
1. Weight loss
2. Reluctance to exercise
3. Decreased appetite
4. Breathing problems
5. Swollen abdomen
6. Persistent cough
When cats are infected, the symptoms will be primarily respiratory issues or sometimes vomiting, coughing, reduced appetite, and sudden death.
What does heartworm testing involve?
Heartworms can be detected through blood tests. The worms release proteins that show up in your pet’s bloodwork. Heartworms can affect your pet’s essential organs like the lungs and heart, so your veterinarian may recommend imaging testing to assess the state of those organs.
How can I care for my pet if they have heartworms?
Treating heartworms is only possible for dogs. Although cats can have the disease, there isn't any approved treatment for them. If your canine is positive for heartworms, our veterinarian will establish a treatment plan to flush out the worms completely. It will involve a series of injectable medications and antibiotics to prevent infections. During treatment, your dog will have to rest for 30 days after their first injection. We also recommend that your pet has minimum physical activity to maintain a normal blood pressure and heart rate.