April is Heartworm Awareness Month. Heartworms may not be the most pleasant topic for us to discuss, but it is important to know what they are, and why they are so dangerous. A Dahlonega, GA vet discusses heartworms in this article.
Heartworms are certainly aptly named. They inhabit dogs’ hearts, as well as their lungs and arteries. After infestation, it usually takes about 6 months for the worms to grow to adult size and start multiplying. At this point, they can cause severe damage to Fido’s vital organs. Left untreated, infestations are often fatal.
Heartworms aren’t spread from dog to dog. Instead, the mosquito has apparently volunteered to transmit their larvae from one pooch to another. In fact, 30 different kinds of mosquitos signed on for this task. This is very concerning, because mosquitos are pretty much everywhere. That means Fido can get infected anywhere, even when there are no other dogs around.
There really is only one way to protect Fido from heartworms: keep up with his parasite control. If your pup hasn’t been on heartworm preventative for a while, you’ll need to get him tested before starting it. This is because heartworm prevention products won’t kill an infestation. Ask your vet for specific recommendations.
As you may know, heartworms can be treated. However, treatment can be expensive. It’s also pretty harsh on Fido. Your pet may need to take some very strong medications. He may also need to be kenneled, which won’t be much fun for him. Severe cases may require surgery.
What about Fluffy? Kitties can also get heartworms. However, infestations don’t play out the same way in cats as they do in dogs. While canids, such as dogs, foxes, wolves, and coyotes, are ideal hosts for heartworms, our feline friends’ bodies aren’t as hospitable to them. It’s quite rare to find more than a couple adult worms in a cat. Most worms in cats die before reaching adulthood and multiplying. This means that infestations sometime resolve themselves. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous. Even a few worms can cause permanent damage to your feline pal’s vital organs. Infestations can also be deadly in kitties. Keep up with Fluffy’s parasite control as well!
Please reach out to us, your Dahlonega, GA vet clinic, for all of your pet’s parasite control needs. We’re here to help!