Veterinary Heartworm Disease Prevention
Keeping your pet healthy requires constant vigilance. Although you may notice the signs of fleas and ticks, there is another parasite that you cannot afford to ignore: heartworms. Unlike many other parasites, heartworms attack silently. At Duarte Azusa Animal Hospital, serving Duarte, CA, we aim to not only treat your pets, but to also educate owners so that they can assist in the prevention process.
What Are Heartworms?
The heartworm parasite is a parasitic roundworm. These parasites infect the lungs, heart, and arteries of animals. The parasites, when left untreated, can cause fatal damage to the animal’s internal organs. Preventive veterinary care is crucial to the early detection and treatment of this disease. Although heartworm disease can be treated successfully, the success rate is based on early detection.
Can Humans Catch Heartworms from Their Pets?
Heartworms cannot survive in human blood. Common household pets such as dogs and cats are at the greatest risk. Ferrets can also contract this parasite. Preventative care at the vet, however, can protect the health of your pets in many ways.
How Does an Animal Contract Heartworms?
Heartworms are generally transmitted to a pet through infected mosquitos. This happens when a mosquito bites an animal infected with heartworms. That animal’s blood is filled with microscopic microflaria. When the mosquito lands on another, healthy animal and bites that animal, the microflaria, which have since developed into heartworm larvae, are then deposited into the healthy animal's blood stream. The healthy animal has now been infected. As heartworms grow, they reproduce and damage their host’s vital organs.
What Are The Symptoms of Heartworms?
In dogs, you will begin to notice a cough which will worsen with time. Dogs may also appear reluctant to exercise. You will notice a decrease in appetite. A swollen abdomen is a sign of severe infestation. Other symptoms can include pale gums and dark urine.
In cats, heartworms can be more difficult to detect. Unfortunately the symptoms of heartworms in cats are often invisible. Cats infected with heartworms often die suddenly before owners even know something is wrong. For feline pet owners, consistent vet care is necessary to make sure your cat is not infected.
Can the Veterinarian Help?
Taking your pets for regular veterinary appointments and checkups can tremendously reduce their risk of developing heartworm related conditions. Your vet can detect early signs of this disease. Prevention is the best medicine, though. At your appointments you can talk about the best preventive treatments for your pets.