April is Heartworm Awareness Month! We know, heartworms may not be the most pleasant thing to discuss. It’s much more fun to talk about Fido’s puppyhood antics or his love of treats. However, keeping your beloved pet protected from heartworms is very important. A Greater Cincinnati vet discusses heartworms below.
Heartworms are parasitic worms that infest dogs’ hearts, lungs, and arteries. They are in larval form at the time of infestation. It usually takes about six months them to reach their adult size. As the worms grow and multiply, they begin to interfere with Fido’s vital organs. This is of course very dangerous, and can even be deadly.
Dogs aren’t the only animals that get heartworms. Foxes, wolves, and coyotes also get them. Cats can also be infected. Their body shape isn’t very hospitable to the worms, so it’s rare to see more than a few adult worms in them. However, infestations are still dangerous to them. Keep Fluffy on parasite control!
Heartworms aren’t spread directly from dog to dog. Instead, the worms have enlisted everyone’s favorite insect, the mosquito, to transmit them. Since mosquitos are, unfortunately, just about everywhere, your pup can get infected anywhere, even inside your home.
Coughing is often the first sign of heartworm infestations. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, lethargy, fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Fido may lose interest in walks and play sessions, and may even become reluctant to move much. More serious symptoms can include fainting, coma, heart attacks, and even death.
As you may know, there are treatments available for heartworm. However, these can be both costly and intense. In some cases, surgery may be required. Dogs also sometimes have to be kenneled during treatment to prevent them from overexerting themselves. Needless to say, this isn’t much fun for Fido.
Heartworms are definitely a case where an ounce of treatment is worth a pound of cure. Simply keeping up with your furry friend’s parasite control will protect him from these nasty worms. However, if your dog hasn’t been on preventative care lately, you’ll need to get him tested before starting a regimen. This is because the medicine that prevents infestations won’t kill live worms. Ask your vet for more information.
Do you need to get your dog started on parasite control? Call us, your Greater Cincinnati vet clinic, today!