Heartworm & Prevention

website pic 54Heartworm is a parasitic worm transmitted to cats and dogs by a mosquito bite.

The symptoms often take months to show because the worms tend to grow gradually.

According to the American Heartworm Society, heavily infected dogs may eventually show clinical signs, including a mild, persistent cough, reluctance to move or exercise, fatigue after only moderate exercise, reduced appetite and weight loss.

Cats may exhibit clinical signs that are very non-specific, mimicking many other feline diseases. Chronic clinical signs include:vomiting, gagging, difficulty or rapid breathing, lethargy and weight loss. Signs associated with the first stage of heartworm disease (when the heartworms enter a blood vessel and are carried to the pulmonary arteries) are often mistaken for feline asthma or allergic bronchitis, when in fact they are actually due to a syndrome newly defined as Heart worm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD).

Heartworm Prevention

Because heartworm disease is preventable, the AHS recommends that pet owners take steps now to talk to their veterinarian about how to best protect their pets from this dangerous disease. Heartworm prevention is safe, easy and inexpensive. While treatment for heartworm disease in dogs is possible, it is a complicated and expensive process, taking weeks for infected animals to recover. There is no effective treatment for heartworm disease in cats, so it is imperative that disease prevention measures be taken for cats.

There are a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection in both dogs and cats, including monthly tablets, chewables and monthly topicals. These methods are extremely effective, and when administered properly on a timely schedule, heartworm infection can be prevented. These medications interrupt heartworm development before adult worms reach the lungs and cause disease.

Usually, all but the most advanced cases of heart worm disease can be successfully treated in dogs, and we are able to do the treatment at Pet Shots Clinics. Currently, there are no products in the United States approved for the treatment of heart worm infection in cats. Cats have proven to be more resistant hosts to heart worm than dogs, and often appear to be able to rid themselves of infection spontaneously. Unfortunately, many cats tend to react severely to the dead worms as they are being cleared by the body. This can result in a shock reaction, a life-threatening situation.

 

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