Turner Veterinary Clinic News
The heartworm parasite presents a serious and sometimes fatal threat to companion animals. Unfortunately, it is not difficult for your pet to be infected, and it’s difficult to treat in dogs. There is no heartworm treatment for cats.
The main route of heartworm transmission to dogs and cats is through a mosquito bite. When a mosquito bites an infected animal such as a dog, cat, coyote, fox, or wolf, its takes in larvae from baby worms. The larvae develop into mature heartworm over the next 10 to 14 days. If the mosquito lives that long, it will bite again and transmit heartworm to an unprotected pet or wild animal.
Signs of Heartworm Infestation in Dogs and Cats
It’s common for animals with heartworm not to show any symptoms in the earliest stages. As the heartworms continue to grow and multiply, it will eventually cause your pet significant distress. The most common symptoms in dogs include:
- A mild but persistent cough
- Fatigue after only moderate exercise
- Resistance to exercise
- Loss of appetite and weight
- Heart failure
- Swollen abdomen
- Difficulty breathing
- Pale gums
- Dark-colored urine
The last five symptoms represent serious infestation. Most dogs will not survive at this point without surgical removal of the heartworms.
With our feline friends, the first indication of heartworm is often sudden collapse and death. Those who don’t progress that quickly may display some of these symptoms:
- Coughing or asthma
- Appetite and weight loss
- Difficulty walking
Heartworm Treatment is Long and Expensive
If your dog tests positive for heartworm, you will need to restrict exercise right away. This means you need to prevent him from engaging in regular physical activities as well. The next step is to stabilize your dog over the course of several months before our veterinarians can begin administering medication. Your dog then takes one or more rounds of medication approved by the American Heartworm Society. The last step is for your dog to receive a test approximately six months after administration of the last dose of heartworm medication to ensure that he is free of the parasite.
Although no heartworm medication currently exists for cats, we may be able to provide your cat with supportive care such as IV fluids and antibiotics. You will also need to ensure that your cat avoids strenuous physical activity at home. Some heartworm issues resolve on their own in cats since they don’t make an ideal host. However, many cats die from the parasite or have permanent health issues such as asthma.
If one compares the average cost of heartworm prevention ($5.00-10.00 per month) vs. treatment (up to $2000), not to mention overall impact of heartworm infection to your pet’s health, it’s clear to see that prevention simply makes sense. Why put your pet through the discomfort or potential long term health risks when heartworm prevention is affordable and effective?
Prevention is Much Easier
At Turner Veterinary Clinic, we follow guidelines from the American Heartworm Society that people should provide their dogs and cats with year-round heartworm prevention. We encourage you to shop in our online storefor prevention products or to ask us for a recommendation. We even offer an option where you can purchase your preventive medications one month at a time, shipped to you, on schedule. It’s easy to remember when your medication arrives right to your doorstep! For a limited time, you can also receive a rebate when you purchase Heartgard, Nexgard, or Frontlineheartworm prevention products for your pet.
Image credit: kozorog / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Did you know that February is National Pet Dental Health Month? We love that this month is devoted to your canine’s canines, your kitty’s chompers, and your pet’s pearly whites. While your companion’s mouth may be a source of kisses and smiles, pet parents may overlook how much their pet’s dental health affects their overall well-being.
Are you ready to ring in the New Year with some new tricks to teach your dog or cat? Yes--cats can learn tricks, and they’re rather good at it! January is “Train Your Pet Month”. You can celebrate with your best friend by teaching them a few new moves to impress the neighbors. It’s also a great time to make an appointment with our clinic to work on breaking some bad habits if you’re concerned about new or recurring behaviors that are getting in the way of the bond you share.
As the holidays approach, you’ve probably switched into Santa-mode and started making a gift list and checking it twice. And like most pet parents, you probably buy your pets something extra special to thank your best friends for being oh-so-amazing! If you’re still deciding on the perfect present for your pets this year, we have some unbeatable ideas that your pets are sure to appreciate!
Don’t let your pet “fall” into some of the most common safety hazards we see this time of year. Fall may be the most beautiful season to some, but there are unique risk factors you can prepare for. If you’re anything like most people, you breathe easier this time of year.
Nothing hurts pet parents more than believing their pet is in pain. And we can’t blame them. It’s hard to know exactly how much pain or discomfort our lovable pets may be in since they can’t ask for aspirin or show us where it hurts.