Pet owners need to know that heartworm is a disease that’s more common in dogs than in cats. It’s for this reason that you should look at heartworm treatment as one of the most important dog vaccinations in Bolivar, MO, but especially so if you live in an area with a higher heartworm risk. Below is some helpful information about heartworm in pets, and why your veterinarian in Bolivar, MO recommends yearly heartworm tests for dogs and cats.
About heartworm disease
Just how serious is heartworm disease? Heartworm disease needs to be taken very seriously, as it’s a potentially fatal disease in pets in many parts of the world. Heartworms can also affect wild animals, like foxes, coyotes, wolves, sea lions and others. And though this rarely happens, it can also affect humans. The disease is caused by foot-long worms that live in pets’ hearts, lungs and associated blood vessels. Affected pets can experience heart failure, severe lung disease and other types of organ damage.
Heartworms in dogs
Heartworm is most common in dogs. Dogs are natural hosts for heartworms, meaning the worms live inside a dog and soon mature into adult worms, mate and produce offspring. Most of the time, when the disease is left untreated, the heartworms will increase in number inside the dog—up to several hundred worms in some cases. This disease causes lasting damage to the dog’s heart, lungs, arteries and other internal organs, and the pet’s quality of life can decline even after the parasites have been eliminated.
Heartworms in cats
Heartworm disease in cats is a little different. While the disease can harm or kill dogs, most worms in cats do not make it to the adult stage. This is because cats are not the typical hosts for heartworms. It’s normal for cats with the disease to only have one to three adult heartworms, or no adult worms at all. Heartworm in cats often goes undiagnosed, and there is no treatment available for cats like there is for dogs. For this reason, prevention is the only way to protect your cat from this potentially deadly disease.
About heartworm testing
Heartworm is a serious and progressive disease. Detecting it early is the key to recovery, but since it can be hard to detect, veterinarians recommend heartworm tests. The test is administered by your pet’s vet and only requires a small blood sample. Some vets can test on-site, while others send the blood sample out to a lab. Either way, test results tend to come back quickly.
Dogs should be tested annually for heartworm during a routine vet visit. Puppies younger than 7 months can start prevention treatments without a test. Test 6 and 12 months later. Adult dogs over 7 months old that are new to treatment need to be tested before starting a heartworm prevention regimen. Test 6 and 12 months later, then annually. Regular re-testing is key to prevention.
For more information about heartworm disease, treatment and prevention, don’t hesitate to call Animal Care Clinic of Bolivar. We look forward to being your go-to animal clinic in Bolivar, MO!
This post was written by Writer