Last winter was relatively mild for New England. With that said, weather forecasters are calling…
There are few things scarier than the thought of a heartworm diagnosis in your dog or cat. For many of us, we don’t completely understand the condition, which makes our paranoia worse.
April is National Heartworms Awareness Month, so we thought we’d answer the common questions we get about heartworms; hopefully to put your mind at ease and to empower you to take proactive measures to minimize your risk.
How Does a Dog or Cat Get Heartworms?
A dog or cat gets heartworms by being bitten by a mosquito harboring a specific type of parasite that infects your animal while the mosquito feeds. The larval stage of the parasite enters their bloodstream where it matures and infects your pet’s heart.
Can Humans Contract Heartworms?
The simple answer is no; you can’t contract heartworms from your dog or cat, no matter how bad their condition is. That’s not how the lifecycle of the heartworm parasite works.
Are Heartworms Contagious?
Heartworms are not contagious animal-to-animal either. The only way for your dog or cat to get heartworms is through a mosquito bite, assuming that the mosquito is harboring the heartworm parasite. A lot has to happen before your pet gets the disease!
How Do I Prevent Heartworms in My Dog or Cat?
The short answer is to take your pet to the veterinarian regularly. We have topical and oral heartworm medicine that will make your dog or cat inhospitable to the heartworm parasite, whether they’re bitten by an infected mosquito or not. This medicine is crucial in keeping your pet protected!
What Are Heartworm Symptoms?
A heartworm infestation can take several years before it becomes noticeable. When a dog or cat shows symptoms, it typically means they’ve been living with the parasites for quite some time. These are the symptoms to look for:
- A persistent cough
- Abnormal fatigue
- Excessive tiredness after regular play
Is There a Treatment for Heartworms?
If your dog or cat is exhibiting the symptoms of heartworms it means they’ve been living with the problem for quite a while. That means it’s essential that your pet undergo heartworm treatment as soon as possible.
Heartworm treatment is straightforward; a series of injections. However, the blood work and other preparations needed before the treatment, can be time-consuming, costly, and stressful, which is why it’s much easier to prevent heartworms in the first place.
Worse yet, after being treated for heartworms, it’s paramount that your pet not engage in physical activity for several months. As their heartworms die, they break up and travel away from the heart. Too much activity can cause too much heartworm debris to move through the blood, causing a pulmonary blockage and possible death.
A Heartworms Diagnosis Isn’t the End
While it’s much easier to simply prevent heartworms in the first place through regular vet visits, it’s not a death sentence if your pet comes down with the disease. We’ll do everything we can to eliminate your animal’s heartworms, and educate you on how to keep them safe while they deal with the recovery period.
National Heartworms Awareness Month is an important month; it’s right at the beginning of mosquito season and serves to remind us of the hidden harm that can be done to our pets when they should be having fun outdoors.