Heartworm prevention advice from Vetaround mobile vet

Heartworm explained

Many people know their dog or cat is on heartworm prevention medication but not that many people are aware of exactly what heartworm disease is and how it is spread.

Unlike the other intestinal worms that we treat for heartworm is not spread by dog to dog contact but by mosquitos.

When an infected mosquito bites your dog or cat they pass infective heartworm larvae into your dog or cat’s bloodstream.

The larvae grow into adult heartworms which then reproduce making the “microfilariae” baby heartworms.

These are then ingested by the mosquitos again when they bite the dog or cat to feed and the cycle starts again.

Adult heartworms live your pet’s heart and main artery that connects the heart to the lungs.

They can reproduce into massive numbers causing severe changes to the heart, arteries and the lungs which causes the clinical signs that we see.

vetaround mobile vet

vetaround mobile vet

Heartworm signs

Clinical signs in dogs initially are often restricted to a cough, but usually also include exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing and sudden or gradual collapse. Untreated heartworm infection in dogs will usually kill the dog.

However, even treatment is not necessarily guaranteed to resolve the disease and some dogs will still die during treatment either from the heartworm disease itself or from complications secondary to the treatment.

Treatment is also costly and usually prolonged. It is for these reasons that our mobile vets strongly recommend using a heartworm preventative product, as both the disease and the treatment of the disease can be fatal.

Luckily, we do not see as many cases of heartworm disease these days mainly because of the very good products available to prevent the disease and because most people are treating their pets with a preventative medication.

As you move up the coast toward the tropics the density of mosquitoes increases and the risk of disease also increases. However despite the lower current prevalence of the disease we still strongly recommend to continue the good trend of preventing the disease so we don’t start seeing a rise in the number of cases again.

There are several forms of treatment available in dogs. A monthly administration of a pipette on the back of the neck is usually combined with other preventative medications such as flea and intestinal worming control.

Or there is also an annual injection which our house call vet can given at the time of the annual checkup. You can discuss with our mobile vet which of these products is the most suitable for your pet and your individual circumstances.

To learn more about our heartworm prevention in your pets contact us today

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