Preventing Heartworm Disease in Pets

Heartworm disease is a very serious condition that affects dogs, cats and other pets throughout North Carolina. Today our vets explain why, when it comes to Heartworm disease, prevention is key.

What is Heartworm?

Heartworms are a parasite that get into your pet through the bite of an infected mosquito. Once bitten by an infected mosquito your pet becomes the parasite's definitive host. Being a definitive host means that the worms mature into adults, mate and produce offspring all while living inside your pet. Heartworms get their name from the fact that they live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of an infected animal. Dogs, cats and ferrets are the pets most commonly affected by Heartworm disease.

What are symptoms of Heartworm disease?

Symptoms of Heartworm disease include coughing, difficulty breathing, fatigue, weight loss and a swollen abdomen. However, these symptoms do not become apparent until the disease has progressed severely and your pet is very sick. There are no early signs or symptoms of Heartworm disease.

How does the vet check my pet for Heartworms?

To check your pet for Heartworm disease, your vet will examine your pet's blood for Heartworm proteins, called antigens. The earliest that Heartworm antigens can be detected is approximately 5 months after your pet has been bitten by an infected mosquito.    

What if my pet is diagnosed with Heartworms?

Treatment of Heartworm disease can be potentially toxic to your pet's body and can cause serious health complications.

Heartworm treatment involves multiple visits to the vet, bloodwork, x-rays, hospitalization, and a series of injections, making it very expensive. 

Treatment options available from your veterinarian include:

  • Melarsomine dihydrochloride, an arsenic-containing drug that is FDA-approved to kill adult heartworms. To treat Heartworm disease, this drug is administered by injection into your pet's back muscles.
  • Topical FDA-approved solutions. These solutions can help to get rid of parasites in the bloodstream when applied to your pet's skin. 

How do I prevent my pet from getting Heartworm disease?

The best way to prevent Heartworm disease is to keep your pet on a prevention medication.

If you have a dog, it is recommended that they be tested for Heartworms annually, even if they are already on preventive Heartworm medication.

Heartworm prevention is safe and easy, and much more affordable than treating the progressed disease. Some Heartworm preventive medications can also help protect against other parasites like roundworms, hookworms and whipworms.

Heartworm and other parasites can be prevented. Contact our hospital to make an appointment for your pet today.

Preventing Heartworm Disease in Pets, Flat Rock Vet

Looking for a vet in Flat Rock?

We're always accepting new patients, so contact our veterinary hospital today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Related Articles View All

Easy Ways To Keep Your Cat's Teeth Clean

Oral health issues are as painful for cats as they are for people. Teeth and mouth pain could even prevent your feline friend from eating. Today our Flat Rock vets share some of the best ways to keep your kitty's teeth clean and healthy.

Ear Infection in Dogs

Ear infection in dogs can turn serious if left untreated and is a chronic problem for many breeds. In this post, our Flat Rock vets list the different types of ear infections and how they are treated and diagnosed.

Why won't my cat eat?

Our Flat Rock vets understand that cats can be notoriously fussy eaters, so if your cat is refusing to eat it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause. Here are a few common reasons why your cat may not be eating, and when you should visit your vet. 

Vomiting in Dogs

Vomiting in dogs is often a symptom of gastrointestinal upset, though there are many potential causes. Today, our Flat Rock vets share essential tips about what to do to keep your dog safe and help them feel better. 

(828) 697-7767