Heartworms are parasitic worms (usually either roundworms or hookworms) that can invade your dog or cat causing severe damage and even death. Infected Ticks can transmit Lyme disease to your cat or dog which causes serious problems such as kidney disease. Proper preventative care can prevent your pet from developing serious complications from both preventable diseases.
Heartworm Disease and Treatments
Heartworms are spread through the bites of mosquitos. Basically, a mosquito bites an infected animal such as a fox or coyote (in rural areas) or dog, cat or ferret withdrawing infected blood containing the heartworm. The mosquito then bites your dog or cat transmitting the adult heartworm which can then reproduce in your pet. This type of transmission from animal to animal via mosquitos or fleas is what is known as a “vector” borne disease.
The Heartworms can then invade your pet’s heart, lungs or major blood vessels causing congestive heart failure (CHF), severe lung and arterial disease and even sudden death. For cats, concerning serious symptoms of Heartworm disease can included asthma attacks, loss of appetite, weight loss, accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites) and collapse. For dogs, some critical symptoms of Heartworm infections to be aware of are sudden shortness of breath, cough and dark or bloody urine.
Heartworms have been documented in all 50 states. Since mosquitos breed in warmer weather it is essential, especially in the spring and summer, to obtain heartworm treatment and preventive care. It is also extremely important to institute proper tick prevention to prevent Lyme disease transmission to your pet. Both important functions can be accomplished at Oakbrook Animal Hospital, our premier Gardner veterinary facility.
Tips for Heartworm Treatment and Tick Prevention at our Gardner Veterinary Facility
For dogs, the first step in Heartworm treatment is to conduct a blood test checking for a heartworm “antigen.” This is a blood marker which takes about 7 months to develop after initial heartworm infection. Dogs can be treated but they may have to be hospitalized at our Gardner veterinary facility. All dogs should be tested for heartworm infection annually. Prevention of Heartworm infection for dogs involves a monthly chewable tablet or medication applied to the skin. Cats are slightly different in that there is no medication available to treat their heartworm infections. Diagnosis is more complicated in cats and may require multiple blood tests, X-Rays and Ultra Sound exams. All cats, indoor or outside cats, should receive monthly preventative heartworm treatment. Flea and Tick preventatives are also essential and are available for both dogs and cats from Oakbrook Animal Hospital.
Contact Oakbrook Animal Hospital
Oakbrook Animal Hospital is located at 500 W. Main St in Gardner, Kansas 66030. Call us today at 913-884-8778 for the best in preventative and acute care for your family pet.