Heartworms are parasites that live inside a pet’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels. It’s very easy for pets to get infected, which is why prevention medication is important. Pets should be vaccinated against heartworms every 6 to 12 months. We also encourage pet owners to have their loyal companion tested at least once every year. Heartworms are detected through blood tests, as the worms release small amounts of proteins in the blood. To assess how severe an infection is, our team will perform X-rays to check the organs.
How does my pet get heartworms?
Heartworms are transmitted through mosquito bites. Infected mosquitoes carry larvae that develop into foot-long worms when passed on to pets. Once infected, the worm matures and reproduces, creating even more worms inside your pet.
How does a heartworm infection affect my pet?
When cats have heartworms, they suffer from respiratory issues. The worms will impact your cat’s lungs and blood vessels, causing inflammation and other internal damage. Dogs have more life-threatening symptoms when they have heartworms. Here are the signs to look for:
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Persistent dry cough
- Loss of appetite
- Heart issues
If you are concerned that your pet has heartworms, contact our team at 403-249-3411.
What treatment is available for my pet if they are positive for heartworm disease?
There are no veterinary-approved treatments for heartworms in cats. Your feline friend’s respiratory issues can be treated, but their bodies must naturally pass the worms. If your dog has heartworm disease, your veterinarian will discuss a treatment option to rid your pet of worms completely. Canines can get an injectable medication that kills the worms in their bodies. The drug is administered in a series of injections. Many dogs may also be prescribed an antibiotic to combat potential infection.
How can I care for my pet during heartworm disease treatment?
Special care is necessary for your pet during heartworm treatment. For heartworm disease to be successful, your pet must have complete rest for 30 days after the first injection. Any activity or exercise can increase your dog’s heart rate or blood pressure, which can cause post-treatment complications. Here are some other tips that can help care for your pet:
- Keep them indoors
- Replace activity with affection or watching TV
- Keep them away from visitors
- Give them something to chew; this prevents them from getting bored
- Keep them on a leash during bathroom breaks
- Stretch out meal times or use an interactive feeder