Your Pet And The Importance of Heartworm Prevention

Every year, many pet owners are horrified to hear from their veterinarians that their pet has developed heartworms. This parasite can wreak havoc on a pet, destroying their lungs and other organs, causing heart failure, and in some cases, leading to death. Most veterinarians urge pet owners when their pets are very young to begin a preventive heartworm treatment and maintain the heartworm treatment throughout the pets life because they understand how difficult heartworms are on a pet and their family.

Heartworms are transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. Heartworms affect dogs way more often than any other pet, although cats and ferrets are not immune and can be diagnosed with heartworms. When an infected mosquito bites a dog, the worm will grow into an adult, mate and have offspring inside the dog’s body. At an adult size, heartworms resemble strings of spaghetti, reaching lengths of four to twelve inches. A “worm burden” is the name of the cluster of worms living in an infected animal. While the average number of worms living in a host animal is about 15, the number can reach up to 250 worms. The heartworms live inside the lungs, heart and surrounding vessels.

While there is no easy way to treat heartworms once your pet is affected by them, your veterinarian can put together the best treatment plan for you. The very best thing to do for your pet is to prevent heartworms all together by beginning a heartworm prevention medication early on and maintaining it through the span of their life.

Heartworms are not contagious. They are not spread from pet to pet. Some people may think that because heartworms are transmitted only from mosquitos, that they do not have to worry about heartworms during the cooler months. This is simply not true. As a matter of fact, it takes about six months for the infective larvae found in the mosquito bite to mature into an adult worm and mate. A dog bitten in June, may not show any signs of infection at all until the following spring. This is why year long preventive heartworm medication is so important.

Our veterinarians at Cumberland Animal Hospital have preventative treatment options for you! There are a number of medications available, ranging from topical to non-chewable and chewable oral options. The veterinary staff at Cumberland Animal Hospital want to do everything we can to make sure that your pet remains healthy and happy. Are you taking preventative measures so that your dog or cat doesn’t contract heartworms? If not, please contact the veterinarians at Cumberland Animal Hospital today at (910) 822-3337!