Preventing Heartworm Disease in Pets

Heartworm disease is a dangerous conditions which can cause lung disease, heart failure and death in White Settlement pets. This conditions is most often found in dogs, cats and ferrets. And here, our vets explain why prevention is so important.

What is heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease is spread through mosquito bites and is primarily caused by a parasitic worm called dirogilaria immitis. 

Pets like cats, dogs and ferrets can become what is called a definitive host,. This means that the parasites live within the animal, mature into adults, mate and then produce offspring. This serious condition is referred to as heartworm disease because the adult worms live in your pet's heart, blood vessels and lungs.

What are the symptoms of heartworm disease?

Symptoms of heartworm disease typically don't appear until the disease is advanced. The most common symptoms of heartworm disease include swollen abdomen, coughing, fatigue, weight loss and difficulty breathing. 

How does my vet check my pet for heartworms?

Your vet can complete blood tests to detect heartworm proteins (antigens), which are released into the animal's bloodstream. Heartworm proteins can't be detected until about five months (at the earliest) after an animal is bitten by an infected mosquito.

What if my pet is diagnosed with heartworms?

Keep in mind that treatment for heartworm disease may cause serious complications and be potentially toxic to your pet's body. Not only that, but treatment is also expensive because it requires multiple visits to the veterinarian, bloodwork, hospitalization, x-rays and a series of injections. This is why we say prevention is the absolute best treatment for heartworm disease. 

That said, if your pet is diagnosed with heartworms, your vet will have treatment options available. FDA-approved melarsomine dihydrochloride is a drug that contains arsenic. It kills adult heartworms. Melarsomine dihydrochloride will be administered via injection into your pet's back muscles in order to treat the disease.

Topical FDA-approved solutions are also available. These can help to get rid of parasites in the bloodstream when applied directly to the animal's skin.

How can I prevent my pet from getting heartworm disease?

It's important to keep your pet on preventive medication to prevent heartworm disease. Even if they are already on preventive heartworm medication, we recommend that dogs be tested for heartworms annually. 

Heartworms prevention is much easier, safer and much more affordable than treating the progressed disease. a variety of heartworm medications can also help you protect your pet against other parasites, from roundworms to hookworms and whipworms. 

Do you suspect that your pet is showing signs of heartworm disease? Our vets have extensive experience in treating a wide range of common conditions, include heartworms. Book an appointment at Frontier Veterinary Hospital today.