What Is Heartworm?
Heartworm is a parasitic roundworm that infests pets, especially cats and dogs. The worm is spread from host to host through insect bites. A single bite from an infected black fly or mosquito is enough to spread the worm to your pet. These worms cause life-threatening conditions such as filariasis or heartworm disease.
Heartworm disease is a serious condition that affects your pets. If left untreated, it can cause major health problems, including death. The symptoms of heartworm disease are often undetectable. This is because the heartworm larva takes months to develop into a full worm. For this reason, it’s important to take your cat or dog to the vet for testing on a regular basis.
Heartworm Disease in Cats
In cats, the effects of heartworms typically aren’t that severe since the worms cannot survive to adulthood. However, heartworms in cats can cause respiratory problems, which may be fatal. While there’s no heartworm cure for cats at this time, giving your cat heartworm prevention medicine is one of the best options for combating this disease in felines.
Heartworm Disease in Dogs
The effects of heartworm disease in dogs are more profound than in other pets. This is because the dog’s anatomy offers a favorable environment for the heartworm parasite to thrive. The parasite isn’t only able to mature to adulthood, but it also can produce offspring. Heartworms are dangerous as they live in the heart, lungs and other vital organs.
Symptoms of this disease in dogs are hard to discern. However, common signs include:
- Persistent coughing
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen belly
- Rapid weight loss
The disease is endemic along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts where tropical and subtropical climates are more predominant. If you reside in any of these geographical locations, then you should consider taking your pet to the vet for heartworm testing.
Why Test Your Pet for Heartworm?
The heartworm larva takes close to seven months to mature to adulthood. This means that your pet may be suffering in silence. The fact that heartworm disease does not have obvious symptoms makes it visibly impossible to detect the presence of heartworms in your pet. Testing is beneficial, as it allows for early treatment in case of any heartworm infestation.
Heartworm Treatment for Pets
Heartworm treatment starts with a blood test or urinalysis to determine the condition of your pet. If heartworms are present, your vet will prescribe Immiticide, Ivermectin or Doxycycline to treat your pet. The doctor may also use steroid therapy to resolve the effects of heartworm treatment. In severe cases, surgery may be the only option to treat heartworm disease.
Contact University Animal Clinic
We at University Animal Clinic have a passion for preventive care. We believe that early testing is the best way to prevent the spread of heartworm disease. Don’t let your cat or dog suffer in silence. Bring them along for a heartworm test in our accredited AAHA hospital in Florida. Take the next step and call 941-355-7707 or contact us online today.