April is Heartworm Awareness Month! Heartworms are a huge danger to pets. Infestations can make your furry friend very sick, and can even be fatal. Read on as a Lakewood Ranch, FL vet discusses heartworms.
As the name suggests, heartworms are parasites that infest dogs’ heart, lungs, and arteries. They are transmitted as larvae, through the bite of an infected mosquito. Once they are in their new host, it takes them about six months to reach their adult size and start reproducing. At that point, they begin to affect your pet’s vital organs.
As mentioned above, heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. There are actually over 30 kinds of mosquitos that carry heartworms. Since mosquitos are present in every state, pets can get infected anywhere. However, any place that is warm and wet is going to be a hotspot. Florida definitely fits that description, so we are definitely in the red zone for this one.
Coughing is usually the earliest noticeable sign of heartworms. Your pet may also get tired quickly, and may become reluctant to run, play, or even walk very far. Other warning signs include weight loss, loss of breath, lethargy, and a lack of appetite. Severe infestations can cause have more serious affects, including fainting, seizures, and even, unfortunately, sudden death. Call your vet immediately if you notice any red flags.
There are treatments available for heartworms. Unfortunately, they can be quite expensive. They’re also not very pleasant for Fido. Your dog may need to have his activities limited during treatment, which may require kenneling him. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.
The best thing you can do to protect your pet from these horrible worms is just keep up with his parasite control regime. This applies to both dogs and cats! This should start while your furry friend is still young. However, if your pet hasn’t been on heartworm prevention, they’ll need to get tested first. That’s because the medicine that prevents heartworms won’t kill live worms. Ask your vet for more information.
Heartworms aside, it’s probably safe to say that nobody likes having mosquitos around. Remember not to let standing water accumulate in things like plant pots. Those quickly become mosquito nurseries!
Please contact us, your Lakewood Ranch, FL vet clinic, with any questions about heartworms or parasite control. We’re dedicated to offering great care.