Heartworm disease can be a dangerous condition which causes heart failure, lung disease and damage to your pet's organs. Any of these can be deadly for Stockton pets. This disease is most often found in ferrets, cats and dogs. Here, out vets explain why prevention is critical for this condition.
What is heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease is spread through mosquito bites and is primarily caused by a parasitic worm called dirogilaria immitis.
Pets, including cats, dogs and ferrets, can become what is called a definitive host. This means that these parasites live inside the animal, mature into adulthood and then produce offspring. We call this serious condition heartworm disease because the parasites live in oyur pet's blood lungsm and of course, heart.
Pets including dogs, cats and ferrets may become definitive hosts, meaning that ticks live inside the animal, then mature into adults, mate and produce offspring. We call this serious condition heartworm disease because the worms live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of an infected pet.
What are the symptoms of heartworm disease?
Symptoms of heartworm disease typically don't appear until the disease is advanced. The most common symptoms of heartworm disease include swollen abdomen, coughing, fatigue, weight loss and difficulty breathing.
How does my vet check my pet for heartworms?
Your vets is able to complete a blood test in order to detect heartworm proteins in your pet's blood stream which these parasites release as they live. These proteins, however, can't be detected until about 5 months after an animal is bitten by an infected mosquito.
What if my pet is diagnosed with heartworms?
Keep in mind that treatment for heartworm disease may cause serious complications and be potentially toxic to your pet's body. Not only that, but treatment is also expensive because it requires multiple visits to the veterinarian, bloodwork, hospitalization, x-rays and a series of injections. This is why we say prevention is the absolute best treatment for heartworm disease.
That said, if your pet is diagnosed with heartworms, your vet will have treatment options available. FDA-approved melarsomine dihydrochloride is a drug that contains arsenic. It kills adult heartworms. Melarsomine dihydrochloride will be administered via injection into your pet's back muscles in order to treat the disease.
Topical FDA-approved solutions are also available. These can help to get rid of parasites in the bloodstream when applied directly to the animal's skin.
How can I prevent my pet from getting heartworm disease?
It's very important to keep you pet on preventative heartworm medications. And, even if your pet is already taking preventative medication, we also recommend that dogs be tested annual for heartworms.
Heartworm prevention is safer, easier and much more affordable than treating the progressed disease. A number of heartworm preventive medications can also help protect against other parasites such as hookworms, whipworms and roundworms.