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Protecting Your Pet From Heartworms

May 15, 2020

Heartworms aren’t the most pleasant blog topic. However, it’s very important for pet owners to know what these parasites are, and how to protect their furry pals. A local Bruce Crossing, MI vet discusses heartworms in this article. 


Basics

Heartworms are, if nothing else, aptly named. The worms take up residence in dogs’ hearts, as well as their lungs and arteries. When a dog is first infected, the worms are in larval form. However, within about 6 months, they grow to adult size and begin to multiply. Eventually, infestations will begin to interfere with a pet’s vital organs. This, unfortunately, can be fatal. 


Transmission

Heartworms aren’t spread directly from pup to pup. Instead, they’ve convinced everyone’s favorite insect, the mosquito, to transport them, via infected blood. Heartworms are an issue in all 50 states, but are a particular risk in spots with lots of mosquitos. Unfortunately, because mosquitos are so common, Fido can get infected anywhere … even in his own bed. 


Symptoms

Coughing is usually the first sign of a heartworm infestation. Other symptoms include fatigue, lethargy, reduced appetite, and weight loss. Your canine buddy may not be very playful, and he may not want to run, jump, or even walk very far. If the infestation progresses, more serious problems arise. These can include fainting, seizures, heart attacks, and, unfortunately, death.


Treatment

There’s both good and bad news when it comes to treating heartworms. The good news is there are treatments available. The bad news? They can be expensive, and aren’t much fun for Fido. Your furry buddy may need to take some powerful medications, and he may need his activity curtailed, sometimes to the point of being kenneled. In some cases, surgery is required. 


Cats

Heartworm infestations are more common in dogs, but that doesn’t mean Fluffy is safe. Kitties aren’t ideal hosts for heartworms, so it’s rare to see more than a few adult worms in cats. However, even one worm can cause serious health issues, and can even be fatal.


Prevention

Fortunately, it’s easy to protect your furry best friend from heartworm infestations. Just keep up with your pet’s parasite control regimen! There are now many different heartworm prevention products available. Ask your vet for more information. 


Does your pet need parasite control? Please contact us, your local Bruce Crossing, MI vet clinic, for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs.

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