Heartworm prevention for cats and dogs is an important concern for every pet owner, as it can be fatal. Prevention is an important and necessary part of providing essential care to your furry friends. The American Heartworm Society recommends year-round heartworm prevention for pets.
What is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease is a potentially deadly condition caused by parasitic worms living in a cat’s or dog’s heart, lungs, and pulmonary blood vessels. Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes and all it takes is one bite from an infected mosquito for your pet to contract the disease. Although heartworm disease is generally associated with hot, humid climates, pets have been diagnosed in all 50 states and even indoor pets are at risk. Over the past year, we saw 13 positive cases at Sierra Veterinary Hospital alone – a marked increase from normal levels.
Heartworm Preventative Treatment
Before your pet can begin a heartworm prevention routine, a veterinarian conducts a simple blood test to check for heartworms. An antigen test detects specific heartworm proteins, called antigens, which are released by adult female heartworms into the pet’s bloodstream. Once the test confirms that your pet does not have the disease, pet owners can begin preventative treatment.
Prescription Heartworm preventatives come in different forms, including chewable pills, topical medications, and injectable medications. Some preventatives only prevent heartworms, some protect pets from heartworms and intestinal parasites, and some protect pets from many different parasites, including heartworms, intestinal worms, fleas, ticks, and mites. Talk with our veterinary staff about which product will be best for your pets.
Heartworm Treatment and Recovery
Heartworm preventatives are safe, relatively inexpensive, and easy to give, but if your pet does become infected, it is important to start treatment right away, as heartworm treatment can be costly and difficult, requiring multiple veterinary visits and months of exercise restrictions.
While there are drug-free strategies that owners can put into place to reduce a pet’s exposure to mosquitoes, there is no such thing as a “natural” heartworm preventative.
Heartworm prevention for your pet is an important, yet easy way to care for your animal and ensure that they do not become infected with the disease. Although there is a cost associated with the medications, it pales in comparison to the cost of caring for an infected pet. Our staff at Sierra Veterinary Hospital can assist you and help select the product that best fits you and your pet’s needs.