By Lindsey Gambler
Heartworm is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and all around the world. The most common household pet infected with heartworms is dogs.
What exactly is a heartworm you ask? A heartworm is a foot-long worm that lives in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets. It can cause severe lung disease, heart failure, and damage to other organs in the body. Mosquitos play an essential role in the heartworm life cycle. When there is an adult heartworm present in a pet, it will produce microscopic baby worms. Once the mosquito takes a blood meal from the infected pet, it picks up these baby worms, which develop and mature into infective larvae over 10 – 14 days. When the infected mosquito bites another animal, the larvae are deposited on to the surface of the animal’s skin, and enter in to the new host through the bite wound. The larvae then develop in the animal’s tissues over 6 – 7 months, to the adult stage, which is present in the heart and large blood vessels in the lungs.
Signs of Heartworm:
- Mild persistent cough
- Reluctance to exercise
- Fatigue after moderate activity
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Asthma-like attacks
- Periodic vomiting
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
Unfortunately, the first sign in cats in some cases is sudden collapse or even death.
We can’t detect an infection until the adult worms are present, so we recommend testing pets on heartworm prevention every 2 years. Take the first step in heartworm prevention today and have your dog tested and started on monthly heartworm preventative. Here at the office we carry Interceptor Plus that prevents heartworm disease. Interceptor Plus also treats and controls common intestinal parasites, including roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Perks of purchasing Interceptor Plus today: $5.00 rebate with the purchase of a 6 month supply, and a $15.00 rebate with the purchase of a 12 month supply.