Spring time is here and so come that time of year to gear up for Heartworm season and time for prevention. Below contains some educational information on Heartworm disease including diagnosis, life cycle and ways to prevent this disease. Call us today at 719-593-1336 to have your pet tested and to pick up Heartworm prevention for the months of May-October.
- So, what is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms living in the arteries of the lungs and occasionally in the right side of the heart of dogs, cats and other species of mammals.
- Life cycle:
1st, an adult female heartworms release their young, called microfilariae, into an animal’s bloodstream. 2nd, the mosquitoes become infected with the microfilariae while taking blood meal from the infected animal. During the next 10 to 14 days, the microfilariae mature to the infective larval stage within the mosquito. 3rd, the mosquito bites another dog, cat or other susceptible animal, and the ineffective larvae enter through the bite wound into the bloodstream. It then takes a little over 6 months for the infective larvae to mature into adult worms.
- How Do You Detect Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm infection in apparently healthy animals is usually detected with blood tests for a heartworm substance called an “antigen” or microfilariae, although neither test is consistently positive until about seven months after infection has occurred. Heartworm infection may also occasionally be detected through ultrasound and/or x-ray images of the heart and lungs, although these tests are usually used in animals already known to be infected.
The easiest and safest way for owners to protect their pets from Heartworm disease is to give a medication once to their pet to prevention the development of the worms. There are a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection in both dogs and cats, including daily and monthly tablets and chewable, a monthly topical, or in some cases a monthly oral liquid dependent on the pet and clinic. The most common treatments include Ivermectin. All of these methods are extremely effective, and when administered properly on a timely schedule, heartworm infection can be completely prevented. We here at Dublin sale and recommend a monthly chewable tablet, Heartgard Plus. This can either be purchased in hospital or an online pharmacy as long as the pet has a current exam and negative Heartworm test once a year.
Most dogs infected with heartworm can be successfully treated. The goal of treatment is to kill all adult worms with an adulticide and all microfilariae with a microfilaricide. It is important to try to accomplish this goal with minimal drug toxicity and a tolerable degree of complications created by the dying heartworms. Heartworm infected dogs which are normal or have mild disease have a high treatment success rate. Patients with evidence of more severe heartworm disease can be successfully treated, but the incidence of post-adulticide complications and mortality are greater.