BY Jeff Speicher, DVM
There were over 1 million dogs in the US diagnosed with heartworm disease, according to the American Heartworm Society. Most of these were in the South East United States. The sad part about this statistic is that Heartworm Disease is preventable!
What are Heartworms? How does my pet get them?
Heartworms are a parasite that primarily live in the heart and pulmonary arteries. They are transmitted to our pets by mosquitoes. That puts our dogs and cats here in the South East at risk year round. When a mosquito bites a dog that is infected with heartworm, it can pick up larval forms of heartworms. These undergo one phase of their lifecycle in the mosquito. When the mosquito bites another dog or cat, heartworm can be transmitted.
How do I know if my dog has heartworm disease?
Dogs with heartworm disease can have signs that range from mild exercise intolerance to signs of heart failure. Dogs with heartworm often have a cough. Dogs with mild or early disease may not show any signs. Cats can have mild signs from an occasional cough or vomiting to severe signs. Heartworm can be fatal to both dogs and cats.
We can test dogs and cats for heartworm disease with a blood test. Dogs should also be tested before being put on preventatives.
What do we do if my pet has heartworm disease?
The good news is that dogs can be treated for heartworms. Here at Loch Haven Veterinary Hospital, we follow the American Heartworm Society guidelines for treatment to ensure the best results for our patients. Even after treatment, animals can have lasting damage to their heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
The best thing for our furry family members is to prevent heartworm disease before it happens!
There are a number of different heartworm treatments on the market at this time, ranging from injectable medications to topical medications. Some heartworm medications include prevention for intestinal parasites, and fleas and ticks.
Here at Loch Haven Veterinary Hospital, we tailor our preventions to our patients and their parents’ needs. We offer ProHeart12, an injectable medication that provides year long protection in a single dose in dogs. Or if you prefer a chewable tablet we offer Simparica Trio for dogs, which protects against heartworm and controls fleas and ticks in one monthly tablet. For cats we have Revolution Plus, which provides flea, tick and intestinal parasite control along with heartworm prevention. Visit us and we can go over which is the best option for you and your four-legged friends.
Let’s work together to keep our Family safe!