April is Heartworm Awareness month. An animal hospital can help you understand the damage these organisms cause and find the right medication to protect your pet. Before going to the appointment, you can inform yourself with the guide below.
Your Guide to Heartworm Prevention
1. What Are Heartworms?
Heartworms are parasitic worms that are spread to animals such as dogs and cats by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes that carry heartworms host the worms in the earliest stages of their lifecycle and spread the parasites by biting another host. Once an infected mosquito has bitten a pet, it takes six to seven months for the heartworms to grow large enough to be detected. The reason April is Heartworm Awareness Month is that it is a good time for vets to assess whether pets have been infected during the previous mosquito season.
2. Why Are They Harmful?
It may take a few years for your pet to show signs of an infection. Once the worms have multiplied inside blood vessels in the heart, they can cause disease and block blood vessels or damage heart function. Heartworms also can reduce the necessary circulation of blood to other vital organs such as the kidneys, liver, and lungs. It’s crucial to take your dog or cat to an animal hospital regularly to determine if they are infected with heartworms, especially since you may not see outward signs of infection before it’s too late.
3.How Are Heartworms Treated?
A vet will administer an injectable drug to kill all the adult heartworms. They will determine the safest method and frequency of treatment for your pet, taking into account factors such as the level of infection and their age. It’s important that all parasites, both adults and larvae, be eradicated, so that a comprehensive treatment can be introduced over time. Vets recommend that pets get plenty of rest during heartworm treatment and avoid strenuous exercise.
Whether your pet is due for a heartworm test or just a routine checkup, find an animal hospital you can trust. Woodworth Animal Hospital in Waynesboro, VA, has over 78 years of experience giving quality care to pets including dogs, cat, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. They offer services including pet dentistry, reproductive services, surgical procedures, as well as general care to meet the medical needs of your beloved pet. For more information, visit their website or call (540) 942-5163 today.