Your pet depends on you to keep them safe from all sorts of harm and health issues. These include potentially deadly parasites that could result in organ damage. As a responsible pet parent, heartworm prevention should be among your priorities. So, before you head out for a game of fetch, find out what causes heartworm. Learn how you can protect your pet from this life-threatening disease.
Heartworms are parasitic worms that infect pets through a bite from an infected mosquito. This mosquito shoots larvae under your pet’s skin. The larvae grow in your pet’s organs between five and six months. The mature heartworms then begin to produce baby heartworms. They are also known as microfilaria, and they circulate in your pet’s bloodstream. These baby heartworms are gathered up by a mosquito upon feeding on a pet, thus repeating the cycle.
Dogs and other dog-like carnivorans, including coyote, fox, and wolves, are the primary hosts of heartworm. But, the parasite can also infect mammals, such as cats and ferrets.
Heartworm is a slow-onset disease. That’s why it’s often difficult to tell that anything is wrong with your pet at all. Months or even years may pass before you can see clear signs. Sometimes, symptoms appear when your pet is already suffering from heart failure.
In dogs, early warning signs usually include shortness of breath, dry cough, and loss of stamina. As the disease advances, other symptoms start to appear. These include difficulty breathing, swollen abdomen, lethargy, lack of appetite, and weight loss. Since these signs are usually subtle, prevention is the best option. Heartworm is almost always fatal if left untreated.
Cats infected with heartworms can also develop a cough and slight lethargy. But, it is more common for them to suffer from heart failure and sudden death. This danger occurs if the disease is not detected and treated early on. It only takes one heartworm or two infecting your feline friend for the illness to become deadly.
Mosquitoes are typically hard to keep out of both your house and yard. So, even your indoor-only pets could still be at risk. To help protect your pets from heartworm, consider the following steps:
Prevention should start when your pooch is only six to eight weeks old. If your dog is over six months old, a blood test would be required before you can begin preventative treatment. This precaution is to make sure that they don’t already have the parasites in them.
Many products can help protect your pooch, not just from worms but also from other parasites, such as fleas. But, the most effective way to prevent heartworm in dogs is an injection administered every year by your veterinarian.
The best products to protect your cat from heartworm are the use of tablets or top-spot applications every month. Since felines can be rather challenging to medicate, routine visits to your vet is often a better idea. This way, a trained professional can administer them for you. Never forget that prevention is the best medicine. So, keep your four-legged best friend fit and healthy all year round.
Are you looking for an effective heartworm preventative treatment plan for your pet? Visit the Community Pet Outreach today in Lewisville, Texas. Call us now at (972) 848-8930 for more information.