cat and dog

Davie’s Top Vet Explains the Dangers of Heartworm and What You Can Do

It’s summertime and in rain soaked South Florida it’s more important than ever to provide heartworm treatment for Davie dogs and cats. While heartworm is a threat to your pet year-round, the rain, and the standing water it causes, provides perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. A Bite from an infected mosquito is the only way your pet can acquire heartworms.

Left untreated, heartworm can be fatal for many pets. Like most diseases, prevention is both easier to do and less expensive than treating the condition once it has established itself.

What are Heartworms, What are the Symptoms and What Can a Davie Pet Owner Do?

Heartworms are just that. They are worms that live in a dog or cat’s heart, lungs or vascular system that can grow to 12 inches long. There can be up to 250 of these worms living inside your pet at any given time. Obviously, these parasites can do serious, and even fatal damage to important organs.

Your pet “catches” this disease from the bite of an infected mosquito; not from another infected dog or cat. A dog with heartworm poses no threat of transmitting the disease to another animal or to its human friends. When first infected, the heartworm larvae reside in the pet’s heart. It takes about 7 months for the larvae to mature into worms and those worms can live in the pet for 5 to 7 years.

Your pet won’t show any signs of the disease until the worms have matured. Symptoms include a persistent cough, a reduced interest in exercise and in advanced cases, unusual sounds coming from the lungs.

So how can you prevent your four-legged buddy from going through this ordeal?

Prevention is the best protection against heartworm. There are inexpensive monthly pills or topicals that prevent the larvae from maturing if you pet gets infected. There is also a injectable medicine that is given every six months. This is a precaution that every dog or cat owner in Florida should be taking.

If your pet is infected, there is a treatment that can kill the worms. However, the treatment takes several months and the pet-owner has to be committed to sticking with it. The drug used is arsenic based and actually breaks up the worms into small pieces. It’s important that the pet remain relatively inactive to prevent the pieces clogging up a vein or artery. The treatment is effective but requires patience.

The vets at DPC Veterinary clinic are committed to providing the best, affordable health care for all the pets in our service area. Heartworms are always a concern. This summer we are offering FREE heartworm testing on Tuesdays along with other discounted services. Call us today for complete details and to make an appointment to check out your pet’s heartworm health.