Prevention Is the Best Tool Pet Owners Have Against Heartworm Disease
April marks National Heartworm Awareness Month, a time for pet owners to brush up on how heartworm prevention can keep their pets safe from the serious and potentially fatal heartworm disease. Pet owners should take this month as a reminder to discuss with their veterinarians how to best prevent heartworm disease in their pets. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for heartworms in cats, and the treatment for infected dogs is complicated and costly. An effective prevention plan is the best tool a pet owner has when taking on this life-threatening condition.
In contrast to the seriousness of heartworm infection, prevention is safe, easy and inexpensive. Prevention options include daily and monthly tablets and chewables, monthly topical medications and, for dogs, a six-month injectable product. All of these options are completely effective in preventing heartworm development when administered properly on the schedule recommended by your veterinarian.
"There is no way to predict where or when mosquitos will show up, and that is why we recommend year-round heartworm prevention," said Nancy Turner, DVM, a member of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association who practices at Vickery Place Animal Hospital in Dallas, Texas.
Heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states, with a higher concentration of cases in regions of the U.S. with warmer temperatures and higher humidity levels, like Texas. Pets are infected when a mosquito harboring the heartworm parasite feeds on them, allowing the parasite to enter the pet's tissues and bloodstream. The heartworms migrate to the pulmonary arteries, obstruct the normal flow of blood from the heart as they mature and gradually spread to the heart itself. Signs of heartworm infection in dogs include coughing, fatigue, reduced appetite and weight loss. The signs of heartworms in cats mimic other feline diseases and include vomiting, gagging, difficulty or rapid breathing, lethargy and weight loss.
For more information on the detection, prevention and treatment of heartworm disease, visit the American Heartworm Society online at heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/heartworm.html.
SOURCE Texas Veterinary Medical Association