Heartworms are a parasite that is transferred between infected animals via mosquito bites. Heartworms are found in all 50 states, but are most prevalent in the southern United States due to humidity and heat. Dogs are not the only animals that contract heartworms; cats can also contract heartworms and both should be maintained on a preventative all year.
Symptoms to keep an eye on if you suspect heartworms:
- Persistent cough
- Reluctance to exercise
- Weight Loss
- Swollen Belly
- Pale gums
- Dark Urine
- Sudden Onset of Labored Breathing
Acworth Animal Hospital is equipped to test your pet for heartworms if you suspect they may be suffering with an infection or if your pet has not been on a preventative medicine. A kit is used which requires just a small amount of blood and then is analyzed by our veterinarians.
Heartworm treatment is very extensive and costly. Your dog will have to be kept at rest for up to 4 months while undergoing treatment, as we need the medicine to kill the worms that have embedded themselves in the heart and great vessels. Pets will usually have to be kept in a separate room from other animals and have a complete avoidance of any exercise or stimulus. This can be difficult on the animal and the owner.
Treatment of heartworms is not available for cats, and many cats do not demonstrate any obvious symptoms of heartworms. There is no treatment for heartworm disease in felines, making prevention the only available option for them.
Dog and cats should both receive heartworm preventative products as soon as they are of age, and remain on them for the duration of their lives. Preventatives come in several forms including oral pills, injectable preventatives, and topically-applied products. Remember that preventatives are always less expensive and more effective than the treatment of heartworm disease. Please call Acworth Animal Hospital to schedule a heartworm appointment for your furry friend today!