What Are Heartworms?
Heartworms are parasitic worms that infest dogs’ hearts, lungs, and blood vessels. (Note: cats can also get heartworms. However, unlike Fido, Fluffy isn’t an ideal host, so serious infestations are rare.) The worms are not transmitted directly from dog to dog. Instead mosquitos—possibly the biggest jerks of the insect world—transport worm larvae via infected blood from one pooch to another. Infestations are painless and asymptomatic at first. However, as the worms grow, they can cause some very serious health issues. In fact, untreated infestations are often fatal.
Coughing is one of the earliest signs of a heartworm infestation. As the worms grow, Fido may lose his breath easily, and may seem very tired. Weight loss is another warning sign. Severe infestations can cause more serious symptoms, such as heart attacks. Ask your vet for more information.
There is both good news and bad news regarding heartworm treatment for pets. The good news is that there are treatment options available. The bad news is that they can be quite expensive, and they aren’t much fun for Fido. Your four-legged buddy may need to take some very strong medicine. He may also need to be kenneled during treatment. Some cases even require surgery. However, as with anything pet-related, the earlier an issue is caught and treated, the better. If you notice any signs of heartworm infestation in your pet, call your vet immediately.
As the saying says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is definitely true when it comes to pet care! You can keep your furry buddy safe from heartworms simply by keeping up with his parasite control products. There are several options available, from topical drops to oral medication. However, if Fido has had a lapse in his parasite control regimen, he’ll need to be tested before starting again. This is because the medication that prevents heartworm infestations won’t kill adult worms. Ask your vet for more information.
Please call us, your Sale Creek, TN pet hospital, with any questions about heartworm or parasite control. We’re here to assist!