April is Heartworm Awareness Month! It’s also Natural Soft Pretzel Month and National Pecan Month. However, while pretzels and pecans are much more appealing than heartworms, we’ll stick to our realm of expertise: pet care. Read on as a local McHenry, IL vet discusses heartworms.
What Heartworms Are
Heartworms are certainly aptly named, as they are parasites that infest Fido’s heart, as well as his lungs and blood vessels. As the worms grow, they start to seriously impact your pet’s health. Left untreated, infestations can be fatal. While dogs are more commonly infested, kitties can also get heartworms.
How Dogs Get Heartworms
As though we didn’t have enough reasons to hate mosquitos, they transmit blood that is infected with heartworm larva from dog to dog. Fido can be infected anywhere there are mosquitos, even if he has never come into direct contact with an infested dog. It takes heartworms about 5-6 months to grow big enough to be detected on tests. It’s worth noting that the medicine that prevents heartworm infestations does not kill live worms. This is why it’s so important to have Fido tested if there are even small gaps in his heartworm prevention regimen.
Coughing is one of the earliest signs of heartworm infestations. As the worms grow, they can cause fatigue and shortness of breath. Your pet may also begin to lose weight. More serious infestations can cause your furry friend to faint or cough up blood. Heartworms can also cause heart attacks in our canine companions.
There are some treatment options available for heartworm. However, the treatment can be costly, and is also rough on Fido. Dogs with heartworm infestations may need to take some strong medicine, and often need to be kenneled during treatment. This isn’t very much fun for Man’s Best Friend! Of course, treatment is offered on a case-by-case basis. The exact treatment needed will depend on the severity of the infestation.
There is some good news about heartworms. It’s now very easy to keep your beloved pup safe from these horrible parasites. Just be sure to give Fido his heartworm prevention on time, and you won’t have to worry! These may be topical drops or oral medications. Ask your vet for specific advice on heartworm prevention products.
Does your dog need heartworm medication? Please feel free to contact us, your McHenry, IL pet clinic, anytime.