Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition that affects pets, especially dogs. It is caused by a parasitic worm that is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Once inside the pet’s body, the worm can grow up to a foot long and damage the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. The good news is that heartworm disease is preventable and treatable. In this article, we’ll discuss how to prevent and treat heartworm disease in pets.
Prevention Preventing heartworm disease is much easier and less expensive than treating it. There are several ways to prevent your pet from getting infected with heartworms:
- Use heartworm prevention medication: The most effective way to prevent heartworm disease is by giving your pet heartworm prevention medication. These medications come in various forms, including tablets, chewables, and topicals. They work by killing the heartworm larvae before they can mature into adult worms.
- Keep your pet indoors: Since heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, keeping your pet indoors during peak mosquito season (usually from June to November) can reduce the risk of infection.
- Use mosquito repellent: If your pet spends time outdoors, use mosquito repellent sprays or lotions to keep the mosquitoes away.
- Keep your yard free of standing water: Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so it’s important to eliminate any sources of standing water in your yard, such as bird baths, puddles, or empty flowerpots.
Treatment If your pet does get infected with heartworms, treatment can be expensive and difficult. The treatment involves giving your pet a series of injections to kill the adult worms. The injections can cause serious side effects, and your pet will need to be closely monitored during and after the treatment. Here are some tips for treating heartworm disease in pets:
- Get a diagnosis: If you suspect your pet has heartworm disease, take them to the vet for a diagnosis. The vet will perform a blood test to check for the presence of heartworms.
- Follow the treatment plan: If your pet is diagnosed with heartworm disease, follow the vet’s treatment plan closely. This will typically involve a series of injections over several months, along with strict rest and exercise restrictions.
- Monitor your pet closely: Your pet will need to be closely monitored during and after the treatment for any signs of side effects. These can include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and lethargy.
- Prevent re-infection: After your pet has been treated for heartworm disease, it’s important to continue using heartworm prevention medication to prevent re-infection.
Another way to prevent heartworm disease in pets is by using preventatives. Preventatives are medications that can be given to pets to prevent them from getting heartworm disease. These medications are usually given orally or topically and need to be administered on a regular basis, usually monthly. Preventatives can be obtained through your veterinarian and it’s important to follow their instructions on how to use them.
If your pet is diagnosed with heartworm disease, it’s important to start treatment as soon as possible. Treatment for heartworm disease can be expensive and can take several months to complete. The treatment involves killing the adult heartworms, which can cause complications, so it’s important to have your pet monitored by a veterinarian during treatment.
In summary, heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect pets. It’s caused by a parasite that’s transmitted by mosquitoes. Symptoms can include coughing, lethargy, and weight loss. Prevention is key, and there are several ways to prevent heartworm disease in pets, such as using preventatives and reducing exposure to mosquitoes. If your pet is diagnosed with heartworm disease, it’s important to start treatment as soon as possible. Speak with your veterinarian for more information on heartworm disease prevention and treatment.