Heartworm disease is one of the many reasons you should never miss your pet’s annual veterinary exam. This infection is one of the more fatal ones that, even if treated, can leave long lasting damage to your pet’s organs and quality of life. Heartworms are foot-long parasites that enter your cat or dog’s blood stream. While in your pet, they reproduce and mature until serious symptoms start to develop. More severe cases are common in dogs, who can carry up to 60 worms in their heart leading to blockage and irregular blood flow. Cats are not common carriers and usually host less than 5. However, they can and will be impeded by a respiratory illness if left untreated. To find out if your pet has heartworms and how to prevent them, book an appointment with us at 403.982.8387.
How can my pet contract heartworms?
The main culprit is the mosquito. When heartworm babies (microfilaria) live in wild animals, like coyotes and foxes, a mosquito who has sucked their blood can transmit some of those baby worms to your dog or cat. When bitten, those babies enter your pet’s blood stream and can mature and reproduce.
How do you treat heartworms in pets?
Cats and dogs have different care needs when it comes to heartworm.
Dogs receive medicine that protects them from heartworms or removes the parasites gradually. Cats on the other hand can only be given medicine that is preventative. Preventative medication comes in many forms for both pets, including topical creams, injections and pills. Our veterinarians can help you choose a method that works best for you and your pet.
If your dog is already infected, cleaning heartworms from their system could require surgery or multiple injectable treatments. In some cases, cats may be suitable for a removal procedure if the parasites are visible through ultrasound.
How frequently should my pet be tested for heartworm?
Your pets should be tested annually and appointments should not be missed, especially for cats since it is, at the moment, quite difficult to treat them. Dogs and cats are tested through bloodwork. We may use ultrasounds on cats for extra reassurance.