Your Guide to Heartworm Prevention and Treatment
Heartworms are not a new topic of conversation for pet owners, but that does not mean that heartworm disease is completely understood. As this is a potentially fatal condition, it is critical that you know what they are, how to prevent them, and what happens if your pet becomes infected. Our team at Pet Vet in Steinbach has put together this guide to answer those questions and more.
What Exactly Are Heartworms?
Heartworms are essentially worms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels, as the name suggests. These foot-long worms are more than just a gross presence in a pet's body. They are dangerous, causing issues such as heart failure, lung disease, and other organ damage.
What Are the Symptoms of Heartworms?
When a pet first becomes infected, you might not notice any signs or symptoms. However, as the infection progresses, you might observe the following symptoms:
- Fatigue, even after moderate activity
- Chronic cough
- Lack of interest in exercise
- Decrease in appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Swollen abdomen
If you notice any of these signs, seek care from your vet immediately. Heartworms can be fatal, so it is critical to get treatment as quickly as possible.
What Steps Do I Take for Heartworm Prevention?
Preventative measures are always best when dealing with heartworms, as they are transmitted by mosquitoes, making any pet susceptible to contracting them. Therefore, heartworm prevention medication is integral.
Your veterinarian can determine the best form of preventative care to ensure optimal protection. However, preventative measures do not guarantee that your pet will not be infected, so it is also essential to have your pet tested each year.
What If My Pet Already Has Heartworms?
Unfortunately, as symptoms rarely manifest in the early stages, heartworm disease can be advanced by the time treatment begins.
When possible, heartworm treatment will include specific drugs that kill both the adult worms and the larvae, as well as antibiotics to fight potential infections. Your pet will likely need to stay in the hospital and rest for about a month. After successful heartworm treatment, preventative medications are given to protect your pet from that point forward.
In some cases, however, the disease has advanced too far, making it too dangerous to administer medications to kill heartworms. Instead, your veterinarian will focus on treating organ damage and making your pet as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately, in such cases, pets are not likely to live beyond a few additional months, which is why preventative measures are so important.
Prevent and Treat Heartworms with Our Veterinarian in Steinbach
We want to help you keep your pet healthy and alive for as long as possible. Call Pet Vet today at (204) 326-6562 to schedule an appointment with our team.