Heartworm is a disease that is spread to animals like dogs and cats through mosquito bites. The disease can have serious complications, including heart failure, organ damage, lung disease, and death. Symptoms of the disease include intermediate coughing and being tired after moderate levels of exercise. As the disease becomes more advanced, symptoms such as a persistent cough and becoming tired after mild forms of physical activity can surface. Blood tests performed by a veterinary office, such as Grand Park Animal Clinic in Katy, TX, can reveal whether a pet has heartworm.
Heartworm Treatment and Prevention
While the best form of heartworm treatment is prevention, all pets need to be periodically tested and re-tested for the disease. Testing should occur before preventative treatment is started, usually when someone gets a new pet or a newly born animal. Other reasons for testing include when an owner switches brands or types of heartworm preventatives, when an owner forgets to give a pet a preventative on time, or the pet has gone without a preventative for a while. Pets that travel to areas where heartworm disease is more prevalent are at risk and should be re-tested. In addition, most veterinary practices recommend periodic re-testing every few years to ensure preventative treatment is working.
If a pet tests positive for the disease, heartworm treatment can include temporarily restricting or eliminating exercise and medication. The exact treatment recommended by a veterinarian will depend on the stage and severity of the disease. Pets with more mild cases of heartworm are more likely to respond to treatment, but it often involves several vet visits, imaging, blood tests, injections of medication, and even hospitalization. Following treatment, a vet will need to confirm that the disease is no longer present in the animal and preventative treatment can then resume or begin. The damage caused to a pet’s heart and lungs, however, is unfortunately permanent.
Types of Heartworm Prevention
Preventative treatment should be given to pets year-round, regardless of region or regional climate. The most common types of preventatives are chewables that are given with food each month. Some forms of preventative tablets protect against other types of parasites such as whipworms, roundworms, and hookworms as well. Other forms strictly protect against heartworm. If chewables are not an ideal option, a vet can prescribe a topical preventative that can be put on the animal's skin. Another option is to have a vet provide an injection that the animal receives once or twice a year. For animals that are resistant to eating tablets, topical liquids and injections can be better options.
The important part of heartworm prevention is to do it. For more information, contact Grand Park Animal Clinic in Katy, Tx, now.