Have you ever heard the old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” This could not be truer when it comes to Heartworm Disease in dogs and cats. Sometimes it is extremely easy to bypass that monthly step of giving Heartworm Prevention since Heartworm Disease is something we cannot normally see. Unfortunately, Heartworm Disease is definitely something your pet can feel! So let’s get up to speed on what exactly Heartworm Disease is and how you can protect your pet…
Who gets it? Dogs, Cats and Ferrets primarily get Heartworm Disease but they can also live in other mammals including wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions and—in rare instances—humans (but don’t worry- you can NOT catch Heartworm Disease from your pets).
How did they get it? The infected pet developed Heartworm Disease after being bite by an infected mosquito. The infected mosquito injects baby Heartworms (microfilaria) into your pet and those babies grow up into full-fledged terrors in only 6 months.
What is going to happen if they have Heartworm Disease? In the beginning, you may not see any changes whatsoever but before too long your dog may begin experiencing a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue, a drop in appetite and weight loss. As the worms take over the heart they develop heart failure and fluid starts to accumulate in their abdomen. Cats tend to develop more issues with their respiratory system and can develop coughing wheezing and difficulty breathing.
Is this going to kill my pet? Most of the time Heartworms will eventually win the battle if left untreated. Sometimes this can be quicker in dogs when they develop Caval Syndrome. Caval Syndrome happens when multiple heartworms stop the blood flow to the heart suddenly. This blockage leads to labored breathing, pale gums and commonly results in death.
Is this treatable? In most dogs Heartworm Disease is treatable for about $800-$1200! It is extremely costly and can lead to irreversible damage that was caused by the Heartworms. It is a difficult time for both the family and pet considering the pet has to remain crated for an extended period of time to allow the Heart time to heal. No treatment is currently available for cats.
So you now know all about Heartworms….How do you protect your pet? All it takes to protect your pet is a yearly heartworm test and a once a month delicious preventative treatment. Once your pet is confirmed Heartworm Negative you can them started on a preventative. There are a TON of preventatives on the market but we primarily recommend Heartgard Plus. It is only $11 a month (or cheaper if you buy 6 or 12 months at a time)! That is a tiny price to pay to keep your pet’s heart free of Heartworms.
Contact us at (757) 539-1385 to determine if your pet is up to date in his or her yearly testing and prevention. Once we have a negative Heartworm Test we can send you home with prevention that same day! If it has been longer than a year since your pet’s last test, we will have to retest to get your pet started on prevention again.
So please take the extra monthly step to protect your pet!