April is Heartworm Awareness Month! This is a very important topic, if not a very pleasant one. We know, it’s much more fun to talk about playing with Fido, or giving him toys and treats. However, heartworms are extremely dangerous to our canine friends! A Clinton, UT vet goes over some of the basics on these parasites, and offers tips on protecting your beloved pet below.
As their name suggests, heartworms inhabit dogs’ hearts, as well as their lungs and arteries. They also infect other canids, such as foxes, wolves, and coyotes. The worms are microscopic upon transmission, but grow quickly. Once they reach maturity and start reproducing, they get very dangerous very fast. Left untreated, infestations are often deadly.
Heartworms are only spread by mosquitoes. Unfortunately, that means that they can be pretty much anywhere. Fido can even contract them in his own yard, or while snoozing in his doggy bed!
Keep an eye out for signs of heartworm infestations. Coughing and shortness of breath are usually the first things you’ll notice. As the infestation grows more severe, you may start to see shaking, weakness, lethargy, depression, and a reluctance to run and play. More serious cases can cause fainting, seizure, coma, or even sudden death.
Our feline friends’ bodies aren’t as hospitable to heartworms as dogs’ are, but that doesn’t mean that they are safe. Fluffy can also be infected. And while it’s rare to find more than a few adult worms in a cat, that’s more than enough to cause serious and permanent organ damage, and even death.
The good news is that heartworm infestations can be treated. The not so good news? The process can be quite expensive, and is pretty tough on poor Fido. Your pooch may need to be kenneled, and he will need to be on strong medication.
This is one area where an ounce of prevention is worth several pounds of cure. Fortunately, all you need to do to protect your beloved pet against these horrible worms is keep up with their preventative care. However, if your furry friend has lapsed on preventative care, they’ll need to be tested before starting up again, because the products that prevent infestations won’t kill live worms.
Do you need parasite control and/or heartworm tests for your four-legged friend? Contact us, your Clinton, UT animal clinic, today!