Heartworm is a severe condition mainly affecting dogs, cats, and ferrets, resulting in lung problems, heart failure, organ damage, and death. The parasitic worm, Dirofilaria immitis, spreads to the pet via a mosquito bite, turning the animal into a host, where the worms mature, mate, and reproduce. This ongoing cycle develops into a condition in pets called heartworm because the adult worms reside in the heart, blood vessels, and lungs.
Our veterinarian staff at West Side Veterinary Hospital in Statesboro, GA, are here to help educate pet owners about various heartworm prevention methods.
Heartworm Prevention Testing
To diagnose heartworm, a veterinarian on our veterinary team can conduct a series of blood tests, including an antigen test that detects proteins left in the pet’s bloodstream from the heartworm. Another test detects microfilariae in the pet’s bloodstream, created through adult heartworm mating.
When Should Heartworm Prevention Start?
When and how often heartworm tests should be conducted depends on several factors. For example, the dog’s age, if heartworm prevention medications were forgotten (and how long), if there was a change in heartworm medications, and if the pet recently traveled to a location where heartworm disease is common. Heartworm prevention may be able to be started early in a puppy’s life.
Annual heartworm testing may be recommended. Speak with a veterinarian on our veterinary team to discuss your pet’s yearly heartworm test and prevention methods.
What Are the Symptoms of Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease can be severe, and the severity of it is based on how many worms are living inside the pet, how long they have been infected, and how their body responds to the presence of heartworms. In many cases, symptoms of heartworm disease are not always recognizable and can only be detected through a blood test. However, as the condition becomes more severe, some symptoms may include coughing, tiredness, sickly appearance, and trouble breathing.
Heartworm Prevention Over Heartworm Treatment
Several FDA-approved medications are available with a veterinarian’s prescription, including oral tablets and topical liquids for the skin. Heartworm treatment medications are chewable and non-chewable or can be administered through an injection. Your pet’s veterinarian can decide which method of heartworm prevention is best for your pet.
Get Heartworm Prevention from a Veterinarian on Our Veterinary Team
Call us at (912) 489-1998 for West Side Veterinary Hospital in Statesboro, GA, to schedule an appointment with our veterinarian and learn more about heartworm prevention and get your pet on a treatment plan today.