Parasites Part 4-Heartworm Disease

posted: by: Dawn, RVT Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

This month we'€™ve focused on parasites.  As you may have noticed, I never talked about Heartworm.  That'€™s because Heartworm is not considered in intestinal parasite and therefore is not tested nor treated the same way.

Hereâ€'s a look back at our last discussion on Heartworm Disease:

Heartworm is exactly what it sounds like; it'€™s a worm that lives in the heart.  Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, which puts every single dog and cat, no matter how much, if any time is spent outdoors and no matter how hairy or thick the coat, at risk for this deadly disease.

When an infected mosquito bites a dog or cat, it releases microfilaria, or baby heartworms, into the bloodstream.  Over time, the microfilaria will mature into larvae, then adult heartworms which live in the heart.  As you can imagine, worms living in the heart is not a good thing!

Symptoms of heartworm infection include depression, lethargy, coughing, exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing, anorexia, and even death.  With cats, often the only sign of heartworm disease is when the cat dies.

There is a treatment for heartworm disease, but it is a long, expensive process, difficult to obtain, and very harsh on the pet.  Even with treatment, some dogs do not survive.

So how can you protect your pet?

Suburban Animal Clinic and the American Heartworm Association recommend annual heartworm blood testing and year round heartworm prevention.  Testing annually is advised as no prevention is 100%.  Also, what are the chances that you forgot a month of prevention, or were late giving it?  There'€™ve also been instances when pets have vomited their heartworm prevention unbeknownst to their owners.  (Note: Suburban'€™s heartworm test is a 10 minute test requiring a tiny blood sample and tests for 3 tick-borne illnesses as well!  That'€™s a 4-in-1 test!)

There are a variety of heartworm preventions on the market.  Many also protect against some intestinal parasites.  More common are varieties that protect against fleas as well.  Most are given orally or topically once a month.

Did you know that monthly heartworm prevention actually works backward?  The medicine in the prevention works to kill any baby heartworms, or microfilaria, that infected the pet in the past 30 days.  This prevents the baby heartworms from maturing into problem causing adults and traveling to the heart.  When the baby heartworms are only a month old, the prevention will kill them.  When you skip doses or are late, this increases the chances of any baby heartworms maturing enough to not be affected by the prevention.

Many owners cringe at the cost of heartworm prevention, and often want to skip the colder months.  It'€™s important to remember that here in the Midwest, we are having milder and milder winters.  Some people travel with their pets in the winter to warmer areas.  Remember, too, that many heartworm preventions now have intestinal parasite protection, which is important year round as even you could bring these home to your pet.  If your heartworm prevention also works against fleas, which are a year round problem, it'€™s important to continue giving the prevention for that reason as well.

When you consider all that the prevention does to protect your pet, and the cost to treat heartworm disease ($750-$1000) with no guarantee of survival, it is well worth it to keep your pet on year round heartworm prevention.

Suburban Animal Clinic offers the following Heartworm Preventions:

K9 Heartgard Plus Beef Chewables: heartworm & intestinal parasite prevention: Buy a 12pk & receive a $12 rebate!

K9 Trifexis Chewable Tablets: heartworm, flea & intestinal parasite prevention: Buy a 6pk & receive a $10 rebate; Buy a 12pk & receive a $25 rebate!

K9 & Feline Advantage Multi Topical: heartworm, flea & intestinal parasite prevention: Buy a 6pk & get 2 doses FREE!

Call today to schedule your dog'€™s heartworm & tick test or to pick up heartworm prevention for your dog or cat!

Suburban Animal Clinic is located in West Columbus off I-70 near I-270.  Suburban Animal Clinic serves Galloway, Hilltop, West Side, Georgesville, West Jefferson, Grove CityGrandviewUpper Arlington (including OSU Campus area), Hilliard and Dublin.

#heartworm #canineheartworm #heartwormincats #heartgard #heartgardplus #advantagemulti #trifexis #ticks #parasites #heartwormassociation