WARNING

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Close [x]

National Heartworm Awareness Month Focuses Attention on a Potentially Deadly Disease

dogs and a cat outdoors where they susceptible to mosquitos

Is Heartworm Prevention Necessary?

It's much easier to prevent heartworm disease than it is to treat it. Although pets that spend time outdoors are at increased risk of mosquito bites, it only takes a second for a mosquito to fly through an open door and bite your indoor cat. Prescription preventive medications, available for both cats and dogs, offer a simple way to protect your pets.

Before prescribing preventive medications, your veterinarian will test a sample of your pet's blood. Blood testing is necessary to ensure that your pet isn't already infested with the worms. If preventative medications are given to a pet that has active heartworm disease, complications can occur.

Preventive medications are available in pill, topical liquid or injections forms. Pills and topical liquids are monthly treatments, while injections prevent your pet from heartworm for six months. Because heartworm preventive medications are only available by prescription, it's important to make annual veterinary checkups a priority. A delay of a just a month or two can put your pet at risk of developing this deadly disease.

Heartworm disease can have a devastating effect on your pet's health. National Heartworm Awareness Month, observed annually in April, reminds pet owners about the health dangers this preventable disease poses for pets.

What Are Heartworms?

Thin, white heartworms look like cooked pieces of spaghetti. Male worms range in length from 4 to 6 inches, but females can grow as long as 12 inches. Heartworm disease is spread when a mosquito bites an infected animal and later bites another animal. The bite deposits tiny heartworm larvae into the animal's bloodstream. It only takes about six months for the larvae to mature into fully grown worms. Once the worms are mature, they begin to mate, producing even more heartworms.

Why is Heartworm Disease So Dangerous?

Heartworms invade your pet's lungs, heart and blood vessels and cause permanent damage that can shorten your furry friend's life. The disease is more dangerous in dogs than cats because fewer worms grow to adulthood in cats. A dog can be infected with more than 200 heartworms, although the average is 15 to 30. Cats may only have a few mature worms or might only be infected with immature worms. Heartworms can live five to seven years in dogs and two to three years in cats, according to the American Heartworm Society.

What Are the Symptoms of Heartworm Disease?

In the early stages of the disease, there may be no obvious changes in your pet's health. As the worms grow and multiply, you may notice that your dog begins to cough. Their cough will gradually worsen as the disease progresses, and you may also notice that your pet tires easily and has difficulty breathing. A large number of worms in a dog may trigger a condition call Caval syndrome. The syndrome occurs when a bundle of worms prevents blood from flowing back into the heart. Emergency surgery is necessary to prevent death.

Coughing and a decrease in activity is common if your cat has heartworm disease. Other possible symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite and weight loss. You may notice that your cat isn't quite as active as usual.

Even if your cat only has immature worms, its health can still be affected. Heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD), a common problem in cats with heartworm disease, occurs when your pet's lungs become inflamed due to the death of immature worms. If your pet has HARD, it may cough, wheeze and have trouble breathing. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to tell the difference between HARD and feline asthma.

How Is Heartworm Disease Treated?

Drugs are available to kill both mature and immature heartworms in dogs. Because the medications are very strong, they can cause blood clots and other complications, in some cases. Your dog will also require frequent tests during heartworm treatment, such as blood tests and X-rays.

The medications that kill heartworms in dogs are too strong for cats. Instead, your vet may recommend medications that treat your pet's respiratory and heart symptoms. Corticosteroids can be used to decrease inflammation, while bronchodilators will help your pet breathe easier.

Is your pet protected from heartworm disease? Call us today to schedule your furry friend's checkup and blood test.


Sources:

American Heartworm Society: Heartworm Basics

https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/heartworm-basics

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Keep The Worms Out Of Your Pet’s Heart! The Facts About Heartworm Disease

http://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/resourcesforyou/animalhealthliteracy/ucm188470.htm

American Kennel Club: What Dog Owners Must Know About Heartworm

http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/heartworm-in-dogs-symptoms-diagnosis-treatment/

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Heartworm in Cats

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/health_information/Heartworm.cfm

Exclusive Offer

New patients get 50% OFF office call!

Sign-up using the form or call us at 208-436-9818 to take advantage of this exclusive offer.

THIS ---->https://rupertanimalcliniccom.vetmatrixbase.com/index.php

Office Hours

DayMorningAfternoon
Monday8:00am5:30pm
Tuesday8:00am5:30pm
Wednesday8:00am5:30pm
Thursday8:00am5:30pm
Friday8:00am5:30pm
Saturday8:00am1:00pm
SundayClosedClosed
Day Morning Afternoon
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
8:00am 8:00am 8:00am 8:00am 8:00am 8:00am Closed
5:30pm 5:30pm 5:30pm 5:30pm 5:30pm 1:00pm Closed

Testimonial

Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.

The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.

Sung L.
Rupert, ID

Newsletter Sign Up