Pets are susceptible to diseases that humans aren't, such as heartworm. Cats can get heartworm; however, cats aren't a natural host of heartworms because the worms don't thrive well in a cat's body; therefore, they aren't as susceptible as dogs. Heartworm is a serious condition, and the 1st Ave Animal Hospital in Vancouver BC can help with prevention and treatment.
What Is Heartworm Disease?
Your pet can get heartworm disease after being bitten by an infected mosquito. When a mosquito bites an infected host, they will become infected and pass the infection to your dog when they are bitten.
Dirofilaria immitis is the organism that causes heartworm disease in dogs. It's a large worm that can reach up to a foot or more in length by the time it completes its life cycle, which takes six to seven months. Over time, the worm can end up in the heart and pulmonary vessels, where it can live for several years. If the condition goes untreated, the heart can become clogged with worms, resulting in heart failure.
What Are the Symptoms of Heartworm Disease?
The symptoms of heartworm disease depend on the severity of the infection, and the symptoms include:
- Weakening after light exercise
- Weight loss
- Excessive panting
- Trouble breathing
- Sudden death
If the condition goes untreated, heartworm disease can cause the right side of the heart to fail and fluid buildup in the abdomen.
How Can I Prevent My Pet from Getting Heartworm Disease?
Preventing heartworm is essential to your pet's health and life, and year-round heartworm prevention is vital. There are several types of affordable heartworm prevention medication, and they come in tablet form, tasty chewable, and injectable versions that protect for one to 12 months. You can go with a preventative medicine with flea and tick prevention to provide your pet with the utmost protection.
Keeping the mosquitoes away can also help. Try to eliminate standing water in buckets, flowerpots, and kiddie pools, because mosquitoes are attracted to standing water.
How Is Heartworm Treated?
Prevention is your pet's best defense against heartworm; however, if your pet develops the disease, there are treatment options available if your pet is infected.
- Steroids can be given to decrease the inflammation caused by the worm.
- An antibiotic called doxycycline effectively kills a symbiote organism that lives in the worm. Without the symbiote, the host is easier to kill.
- A heartworm preventative can prevent younger worms from developing into adults.
The most crucial heartworm treatment is an injection that has an arsenic base. After the first injection, your pet will need another in 60 days, 90 days, and 91 days after the diagnosis date.
Schedule an Appointment with Our Veterinarian in Vancouver, BC
If your pet shows signs of heartworm disease or you need to purchase heartworm preventative medication, call 1st Avenue Animal Hospital. Our veterinarian can test your pet for heartworm disease and begin treatment immediately. If you need to buy heartworm or flea and tick preventative medication, our vet can provide them.