A key part of being a responsible pet owner is being aware of common health conditions. Heartworm disease is particularly dangerous since it can have serious and potentially fatal effects. It’s crucial to be mindful of changes to your pet’s health so that you can bring them to a veterinarian promptly. Here’s everything you need to know.
What Is Heartworm?
Heartworm disease develops when a parasitic worm is spread to the infected animal through a mosquito bite. Once the worm finds a host, it matures and eventually produces offspring inside the host’s body. Male heartworms can grow up to 6 inches, and females have the potential to grow up to a foot long.
Over time, the number of worms inside the infected animal grows. This is known as its “burden.” While most animals will have an average of 15 heartworms, the number can reach as high as 250. Both cats and dogs are vulnerable, but the former is unlikely to suffer the way that dogs do.
What Are the Symptoms?
Symptoms depend largely on the burden your pet carries and how long the problem has been present. There are four classes of heartworm disease, and in its earliest stages, there are usually no symptoms at all.
By the second class, your pet may cough sometimes or experience occasional bouts of fatigue. The third class produces far more significant symptoms, including frequent coughing, exhaustion, and difficulty breathing.
Class 4 occurs when the worm burden is so great that it prevents blood flow to the heart. This is a potentially fatal problem that requires a veterinarian’s emergency assistance, which may include anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and several weeks of strict rest without any physical exercise.
How Is It Prevented?
While it’s crucial to visit the veterinarian for annual testing to catch the disease before it reaches an advanced stage, it’s equally important to prioritize prevention. Your pet’s provider will prescribe a preventive medication, which is either administered orally, injected by a professional, or applied to the skin. These treatments are formulated to kill off the parasite during its earliest stage, preventing it from maturing and reproducing in the body.
Your pet deserves only the best quality of care. That’s why so many throughout Cincinnati, OH, trust in the veterinarians at TLC Pet Care Centers. Proudly serving the Tri-State community, they offer reliable animal care and pet wellness services. Whether your fur baby requires dental assistance, surgery, heartworm treatment, or a general examination, they’ll be in the best possible hands. Visit the website for more information on their services. Call (513) 825-4011 to schedule an appointment at the West location or (513) 683-2300 to see a professional at the East location.