“Your pet has heartworm.”
Those are the last words any owner wants to hear from their veterinarian.
Heartworm is a potentially fatal parasite transmitted by the bite of a mosquito and has been reported in all fifty states in the U.S.
How is Heartworm Transmitted to Animals?
When a heartworm-infected mosquito bites an animal it deposits baby heartworms (larvae) into the bloodstream. The larvae develop and within 7 months they become adult worms that live in the heart and arteries of dogs and other mammals such as cats, coyotes, and foxes. If these worms are not killed they will increase in number, causing lasting damage to the heart, lungs, and arteries, which could be fatal. Mosquitos have no boundaries. They go anywhere and everywhere including into your home. Your pet is at risk even if they only go outside for a brief time to go to the bathroom.
Paws to consider: Heartworm cannot be transmitted from one pet to another, only via infected mosquitos.
Is Heartworm Treatable?
Most pets can be treated successfully, however it can be a long and difficult treatment. It can also end up being a huge financial strain. Heartworm treatment consists of x-rays to determine the effects on the heart and arteries, blood work to make sure your pet can handle the treatment, and then several injections over a couple of months to eliminate the adult worms. Treatment can range from several hundred dollars up to $1000+.
Prevention is Key!
Heartworm prevention is the safer and more economical option. Your veterinarian can prescribe to you a tablet, a chew, or a topical medication that is given to your pet on a monthly basis.
Your pet must have a simple blood test to check for an active heartworm infection before starting a heartworm preventative.
Paws to consider: Although heartworm is more prevalent in dogs, cats are still at risk. Ask your veterinarian about cat heartworm testing and prevention!
Annual heartworm testing is necessary even if pets are on year round prevention to make sure no break through infection has occurred. Heartworm prevention is highly effective but not 100 percent. Administering monthly prevention also has an added bonus in that most are effective against intestinal parasites.
Paws to consider: Ask your veterinarian what preventions they carry and all the added intestinal parasite benefits of each to maximize parasite prevention!
- Your pet can get heartworm even if they do not spend a lot of time outdoors
- Test your pet every year (testing usually coincides with the beginning of mosquito season which is during April and May in Colorado)
- Prevention is key and is more economical
- Ask your veterinarian about the added intestinal parasite benefits
If you would like your pet to be tested for heartworm give us a call at 720-851-0820. It is quick and easy and can potentially save your pets life! Visit us at the clinic to get a fun set of monthly heartworm prevention reminder stickers you can use all year long.