Heartworm disease is a serious illness that can affect our beloved furry friends. With April being National Heartworm Prevention Month, it’s the perfect time to raise awareness about this disease and the importance of prevention.

What is a Heartworm?

A heartworm is a parasitic worm that can infect dogs, cats, and other mammals. The disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito which carries the larvae of the heartworm. Once inside the host’s body, the larvae mature into adult worms that reside in the heart and surrounding blood vessels. Over time, they can cause damage to the heart, lungs and other organs, leading to serious health issues.

Signs and Symptoms of Heartworm Disease

The signs and symptoms of heartworm disease can vary depending on the severity of the infection. In the early stages, there may be no visible symptoms. As the infection progresses, signs may include:

  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart failure

In some cases, advanced heartworm disease can also be fatal.

Preventing Heartworm Disease

When it comes to prevention, Dr. Thomas of West Delray Veterinary informed us that, “Heartworm disease is a serious health concern for our furry family members. Thankfully there are many safe, effective options to prevent this disease and keep our pets protected against this parasite.”

These options may be the use of monthly heartworm preventatives like Simparica Trio, Heartgard, Trifexis, and more. These medications work by killing the larvae of the heartworm before they mature into adult worms. It’s important to start heartworm prevention early as larvae can even infect young puppies and kittens. Ask your veterinarian which heartworm preventative they recommend for your fur baby at their next appointment!

Pet owners should also take steps to reduce their pet’s exposure to mosquitoes, which can spread the disease. This can be achieved by using mosquito repellents, keeping pets indoors during peak mosquito hours, and removing any standing water outside where mosquitoes breed.

Testing for Heartworm Disease

Testing for heartworms is a simple and effective way to detect the disease early. The American Heartworm Society (https://www.heartwormsociety.org/) recommends that all dogs be tested for heartworms annually, even if they are already receiving routine heartworm prevention. Although infection in cats is less common, they should also be tested for heartworm disease. Heartworm testing is done with a simple blood test at your trusted veterinary practice, so be proactive and schedule your furry friend’s appointment!

Treatment for Heartworm Disease

Thankfully there is an effective treatment protocol if your pet is affected by heartworm disease that typically involves a combination of oral medications along with a series of injections. It is important to note that heartworm treatment is only available in dogs and the treatment itself can also have negative health implications. This makes prevention critically important.

Given the impact of heartworm disease and the treatment protocol on pets, it is important to take steps to prevent heartworm disease. They should receive regular testing and preventative treatment medications. By working together to raise awareness about heartworm disease during National Heartworm Prevention Month, we can help keep our furry friends healthy and happy!

If you are located in the Delray Beach, Boca Raton, and Boynton Beach areas, you can always contact the team at West Delray Veterinary at 561-777-7173, email us at info@westdelrayvet.com or visit our website at www.westdelrayvet.com to schedule an appointment for your pet’s heartworm test and prevention plan!