April is Heartworm Prevention Month. Heartworms may not be the most pleasant topic to discuss, but they are definitely an important one. Read on as a Carmel Valley, CA vet goes over some basics of heartworm infestations and preventions.
Heartworms do not spread through direct contact or infested environments. They are transmitted by mosquitoes, who transport larval heartworms, which are known as microfilariae, via the blood of an infected pup. Once a dog is infected, it only takes about six months for the worms to reach adult size—at which point they look like spaghetti—and start multiplying.
The name ‘heartworm’ is a giveaway as to the specific dangers these disgusting worms pose. Adult worms infest dogs’ hearts, as well as their lungs and arteries. As one can imagine, any interference with these vital organs is very dangerous. Unfortunately, if left untreated, heartworms are often fatal.
Heartworms are primarily a concern with dogs. However, they also infect foxes, coyotes, and wolves. Kitties, unfortunately, are also at risk. Fluffy’s physiology isn’t as hospitable to the worms as those of canids, so it’s pretty uncommon to find cats with severe infestations. However, even a single worm can be deadly to her.
It’s important to know what to look for. Coughing and fatigue are usually the first two things you will spot. You may also notice Fido losing interest in or even becoming reluctant to run and play. Other warning signs include weight loss, reduced appetite, and a swollen tummy. As the infestation progresses, those symptoms may become more severe, and may include things like fainting, coughing up blood, and heart attacks.
Keeping Fido Safe
There are treatments available for heartworm. However, these can be expensive, and also aren’t much fun for poor Fido, who may have to be on a very low activity schedule for a while. It’s both safer, cheaper, and easiest to protect your pet. There are several different heartworm prevention products on the market, such as oral chews and injections. It’s also important to have your furry buddy tested regularly, and keep an eye out for the symptoms listed above. Even the best products may not provide 100 percent protection, as there is some evidence of certain strains becoming resistant. Ask your vet for more information.
As a trusted vet clinic in Carmel Valley, CA, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with us for your furry companion. Contact us today to book your pet’s next appointment!