Which pets are at risk for heartworm?

Heartworm disease is a serious, life-threatening condition that can affect dogs and cats. The good news is that heartworms are relatively easy to prevent.

Heartworm is a disease that affects dogs and cats. However, it can also be transmitted to ferrets, and other mammal species, including wolves, coyotes, foxes, and on rare occasions, even humans.

Heartworm is transmitted to animals by mosquitoes, which are active in the summer months. While these insects do not fly far when they bite you or your pet—they need to stay close enough to water sources—you could still get bitten while walking your dog on a hot day during those months.

What are the symptoms of heartworm in cats and dogs?

There are many different symptoms that your dog or cat may experience if it has heartworm. So how can you tell if you should take action? Some of the symptoms to look out for include:

The symptoms of heartworm in dogs include:

  • Coughing
  • Lack of energy
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss

Symptoms of heartworm in cats include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing/gagging
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

How can I protect my pets from heartworm disease?

The most effective prevention treatments include regular vet visits and the administration of a heartworm prevention pill given on a regular basis. Heartworm prevention medicine is safe for your pet and does not cause any side effects.

Heartworm is transmitted to pets through mosquitoes, so it’s important to take precautions when outside during mosquito season. If you have a dog or cat that doesn’t have heartworm prevention on them, they should be brought in for treatment before they can be around other animals or humans of any age.

How do veterinarians diagnose heartworm disease?

The most common ways to diagnose heartworm disease in pets include:

  • Blood tests: these involve taking a blood sample from your pet and sending it to a laboratory for analysis. The results of these tests will tell you if your pet has been exposed to the parasite that causes heartworm, or if it is currently infected with the parasite. If your pet has been exposed but does not have symptoms yet, this test can also help predict whether he or she will develop signs of infection later on.
  • X-rays and ultrasounds: these imaging techniques allow veterinarians to look inside the heart and lungs, where they may see signs of infection such as fluid build-up or changes in size or shape of those organs. This is usually only necessary in advanced heartworm cases.

What is involved in treating heartworm-infected pets?

Heartworm treatment involves the administration of a series of injections. The number and frequency of these injections depend on your pet’s condition, and your vet will advise the most appropriate schedule.

You can protect your pets by using heartworm preventative medications recommended by your veterinarian. If you have any questions about the risk of heartworm in your area or the use of an appropriate heartworm preventative product for your pet, give us a call today. Our expert veterinary team is here to help you and your pet stay healthy and happy!

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