April is National Heartworm Awareness Month, a time of year when veterinarians emphasize the importance of understanding this parasite. In Hawaii, heartworm prevention requires year-round vigilance due to the constant presence of mosquitoes. That’s why the team at Ohana Veterinary Hospital in Honolulu would like to share some key information on the topic. The points below will help you keep your pet free from infection.
What Are Heartworms?
The heartworm is a parasite that primarily attacks dogs, although cats can also play host to it. If an animal has heartworms, they will often produce very tiny larvae in the bloodstream. Mosquitoes bite these infected animals, and in doing so, remove the larvae from their bodies. When those same mosquitoes bite other animals, the larvae enter their bloodstream where they can grow to maturity.
What Are the Risks?
Unfortunately, infected pets often display no symptoms during the early stages of heartworm disease. Over time they may develop fatigue, lethargy, chronic coughing, and an overall decrease in energy levels. Eventually, heartworm disease can be fatal. Sometimes heartworms accumulate to such a degree that they cause heart blockages.
How Can I Prevent Heartworm Disease?
First, contact your veterinarian to discuss setting up a heartworm disease testing schedule. Dogs should be tested regularly, but your vet needs to account for their maturity before developing the proper schedule.
During your appointment, ask about prevention options. Typically, a dog or cat can take medication or consume a certain type of food designed specifically to guard against heartworm infection. In the meantime, don’t let your dog or cat spend too much unsupervised time outdoors, especially on warm days when mosquitoes are abundant.
At Ohana Veterinary Hospital in Honolulu, they believe that education is the key to keeping pets healthy. That’s why their veterinarians will gladly answer any questions you have about heartworm disease. Contact them online for more information or call (808) 845-1762.