Heartworm Disease: Pet at Risk? Easy, Safe Prevention
Heartworm Disease: Pet at Risk? Easy, Safe Prevention: What is heartworm disease? Heartworm disease is caused by slim long parasites that can reach up to a foot long and can infect ferrets, dogs, and cats. These parasites are transmitted to another by mosquitoes.
The worms reside on the right side of the adjoining vessels of infected pets and are capable of causing significant damage to the heart and lungs before any sight of disease is evident.
IS MY PET AT RISK?
Heartworms primarily affect dogs, but infection in felines is common in many areas and studies are on the rise. Ferrets are even more susceptible than dogs to this dangerous parasite.
Heartworm disease is generally more dangerous in ferrets and cats, because it takes fewer worms and treatment is more risky. Symptoms of this disease include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive panting
- Lack of exercise
Pets are the highest risk outdoors and areas with mosquitoes. Mosquitos can travel in the wind many miles from a water source. One bite from an infected mosquito can lead to the death of a pet and no pet is safe and sound.
Easy, Safe Prevention
The best way to reduce your pets risk of infection is to purchase heartworm chewable tablets such as “Interceptor Plus“. Interceptor is SAFE and extremely effective covering the five major worms. You can price preventive meds online at 1-800-PET-MEDS or chewy.com (to name a few).
Because your pets may already be infected, it is imperative to get annual blood testing for pets over 6 months before starting heartworm preventive. Limiting exposure is difficult; the safest way to prevent the disease is by getting the preventive.
Testing for infection
After your pets 6 month birthday, your pet should get a blood test annually. The earlier the disease is found, the easier and safer the treatment is.
You should get testing with the above mentioned symptoms any time of year.
Be sure to find a hospital that can include the heartworm test with the complete blood cell count (CBC) and Internal Organ Function IOF tests to determine any damage the disease has caused.
When Disease Strikes
Treatment for heartworms can be risky and expensive. Year-round prevention is the utmost importance. The outcome of patients with heartworm varies, depending on the severity of the problem. Sick pets need strict confinement and most require hospitalization– sometimes for weeks.
Medication treatments kill immature adult worms. Supportive therapy is given to decrease inflammation, aid breathing, and decrease risk complications. If your pet survives the disease, it is not immune.
Heartworm prevention needs to be given all year long. If the worms damage the heart, the pet may need lifelong therapy treatments and special diets. For more information, contact your local dog walker.