Ramey Veterinary Hospital offers heartworm testing and prevention for dogs and cats, as well as treatment of dogs who test positive for heartworms. The most important message to take away about heartworms is that prevention is always better than the cure; annual testing and consistent prevention are the easiest and most cost effective way to keep your pet from having heartworm infection.
Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes when an infected mosquito bites an animal and injects baby heartworm larvae (microfilaria) into the blood. Heartworms typically affect companion pets like dogs, cats, and ferrets. In dogs, the microfilaria travel to the heart where they mature and grow so large and so numerous that they clog up the heart and vessels.
Prevention of heartworms can be accomplished by a variety of methods including annual injections and monthly products that combine heartworm control with flea, tick, and intestinal worming protections. If you have missed a month or more of administering your pet’s treatment, it’s important to have your pet tested for heartworms before beginning a dosage again.
Symptoms of heartworms in dogs are not obvious for months after the infection occurs. Common signs of heartworm infection are coughing, lethargy, loss of appetite, weakness, fainting, or distended abdomen. Treatment of a heartworm positive dog involves a series of injections of a drug that kills the adult worms; this can be a risky process. Once administered, it requires confinement, close monitoring, and management of any resulting complications.
In cats, the heartworms can end up in the cat’s lungs. Their immune system usually attacks the microfilaria before they have time to mature to an adult worm, however the immune reaction can cause significant damage to the surrounding lung tissue. If a cat tests positive for heartworms, there is no treatment as there is for dogs. Their condition is likely to mimic feline asthma and those symptoms will need to be managed.
Call Ramey Veterinary Hospital today to schedule a heartworm test for your pet.