April is Heartworm Awareness Month! It’s also Jazz Appreciation Month and National Grilled Cheese Month. However, while those are undoubtedly much more pleasant topics, heartworms are a bit more in our wheelhouse. Keeping your beloved pet safe from these deadly parasites is very important! A local Lakeville, MN vet discusses heartworms in this article.
As the name suggests, heartworms infest Fido’s heart. They can also live in dogs’ lungs and arteries. Heartworm infestations are extremely dangerous, and, if left untreated, can even be deadly. Cats can also get heartworms, though dogs are more commonly infested. Ask your vet for more information.
Heartworms have somehow managed to enlist the world’s most annoying insect—the mosquito—to help spread infestations. Mosquitos who bite an infected dog can transmit the parasites to other dogs, thus spreading the infestation. Since mosquitos are in every state, this means that your canine pal can contract heartworms pretty much anywhere: even inside your home!
Dogs don’t show signs of heartworm immediately after contracting the parasites. This is because the worms are in larval form when they are initially transmitted. Coughing is one of the earliest symptoms of heartworm infestation. You may also notice Fido getting tired out quickly and/or losing his breath. As the worms grow, they will begin to interfere with your pet’s vital organs. This causes more severe symptoms, such as fainting, weakness, dizziness, and lethargy. Serious infestations can even cause heart attacks!
Now for some good news: you can protect your furry best friend from these disgusting and dangerous parasites. All you need to do is keep up with Fido’s heartworm protection products! Of course, if your pup has missed medication, or hasn’t started yet, your vet may need to run tests before starting him on a parasite control regimen. That’s because the medication that prevents heartworm infestations is not effective against infestations.
There are treatments available for heartworm infestations. However, these procedures can be costly, and they aren’t much fun for dogs. For example, Fido may need to be kenneled during treatment, to ensure that he doesn’t overexert himself. Severe cases may even require surgery. One thing we know for sure: when it comes to heartworms, an ounce of treatment is worth several pounds of cure!
Does your dog or cat need heartworm medication, tests, or treatment? Contact us, your Lakeville, MN vet clinic, today!