Healthy Heart: Heartworms and Your Pet

By July 20, 2016 Pet Care No Comments

bulldog lying down pantingWe all know that heartworms are a possibility for our pets. How much do we know, however, about what we’re trying to prevent in our pets?

Heartworms are caused by Dirofilaria immitis, a type of roundworm. These worms are spread via mosquitoes carrying the larvae. Humid, tropical areas and any outdoor time may put dogs and other pets at risk. These worms make their way through the body to the heart and lungs. The process can take time, and so symptoms may not appear until long after infection. Infections can be mild or severe, and are more likely in some states in comparison to others. This rather common problem is preventable and treatable.

There are levels of infestation. Class I is very mild and may present no symptoms, or little more than a cough, while Class II pets will cough and be sluggish. Severe cases present with sluggishness, anemia, fainting, and heart failure. If your vet thinks that heartworms might be present in your dog or pet, she will look for heart problems with an electrocardiograph. She may also test urine, perform X-rays, and more.

If a dog is infected, he will need hospitalization and treatment to kill the infection. You may also have to administer monthly treatments at home. If the worms have grown significantly, then surgery may be necessary to extract the worms.

When recovering, your pet should be inactive to prevent strain on the heart. A special diet may be necessary, too. He will need regular testing to make certain the problem is dissipating, and not recurring; re-infestation, or resistant infestation is a possibility, particularly for older dogs.

The first step to dealing with heartworms is to prevent them. Regular, monthly medication should be administered to prevent infestation from beginning. You can even purchase prevention medication that is also your regular flea prevention, all in one treatment. To find out what is best for your pet, contact us as Pet Vet Animal Hospitals today.