Heartworm disease is one of those scary diseases that most dog and some cat owners have heard of, but very few fully understand what it is, how it works, and why it is so important to be proactive about heartworm prevention in our pets. Hamilton Road Animal Hospital in Columbus seeks to change that by spreading the word to local pet owners about why heartworm prevention is such a pivotal part of pet ownership.
How Heartworms Are Contracted
Like so many potentially fatal illnesses, heartworms are spread by mosquitoes. Because mosquitoes are a pervasive part of the Ohio landscape, especially during warmer months, it is essential that dog owners take preventative care seriously. The problem with heartworm disease is that it does not often present early symptoms.
In fact, because it is something a veterinarian cannot detect through visual examinations, your pet should be tested each year and heartworm preventatives should be given year-round.
Veterinary Treatment For Heartworms
Heartworm preventatives are chewable medications that you can get from your veterinary clinic after your pet is tested to confirm it does not currently have heartworms. If your pet is heartworm positive, meaning it has heartworms, your vet will recommend a treatment protocol. The treatment will likely first involve confirmation of the diagnosis, followed by restrictions on exercise for the dog in an effort to stabilize the condition. If your dog is already showing symptoms your vet may recommend other medications before beginning the heartworm treatment, especially if the symptoms are severe. Symptoms of heartworms include the following:
- Becoming easily fatigued
- Swelling in the belly (a sign that the pet is retaining fluid)
- Mild but persistent cough
- Unwilling or reluctant to exercise
- Symptoms of cardiovascular disease
If left untreated, heartworms can be fatal for your dog. It is a condition that pet owners should take seriously. A cat’s body is less hospitable to heartworms than a dog’s body. But cats can still develop heartworms and although it is less likely, it can still be lethal. Signs to watch out for include periodic vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, coughing, fainting, seizures, and sudden death.
At Hamilton Road Animal Hospital in Columbus, we understand that your pet is family. That is why we are here to help your pet get the preventative care that it needs for heartworms and so much more. Call us today at (614) 239-0027 to learn more about our caring veterinary staff and all of the effective treatments and preventatives that our team has to offer your pet.