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Veterinary Services That Prevent Heartworms

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Protecting the health of our animals should be a top priority for pet owners. However, because our animals cannot communicate with us, it’s often difficult to know when they are sick or injured. One of the best ways to be proactive about your pet’s health is through preventative veterinary services.

Heartworm disease is a common preventable infection. As the disease can cause irreparable damage to a pet’s arteries, heart, and lungs, it’s vital to understand the condition and the measures pet owners can take. Our experts at All Aboard Animal Hospital explain everything you should know.

Heartworm Basics

The heartworm, Dirofilaria immitis, is a parasite that animals get through mosquito bites. Mosquitos can transfer the parasite to multiple animals after drinking infected blood. Not all types of mosquitoes transmit heartworms, but areas with warm, balmy climates, such as South Florida, see higher rates of them. While this parasite is the same for dogs and cats, how they are infected differs significantly.

Heartworms In Dogs

Heartworms can only thrive on the blood-pumping right side of the heart and affect how the dog carries oxygen throughout their body. Reaching up to 14 inches in length, it nourishes itself within the pulmonary arteries and creates massive inflammation and blood clots. If multiple worms are present, it becomes more challenging for the dog to pump blood adequately. Depending on the number of worms within the heart, sometimes reaching over 100, the severity of the issue varies.

Heartworms In Cats

Unlike the way heartworms affect dogs’ hearts, it is the lungs of cats that are infected with the disease. Unlike dogs, cats are not a suitable host for heartworms; the larvae focus their attack on the immune system. If the heartworm reaches the fifth stage of its lifespan, it will try to make its way to the pulmonary arteries. The strength of most cats’ immune systems is so great, only about 25% of larvae will reach this stage. Cats are usually only infected with one to three worms.

Heartworm Prevention Treatment

Thankfully, you can take many preventative measures to protect your pet’s health and happiness from the horror that can be heartworms. For the most part, veterinarians will suggest an oral supplement to be taken monthly to prevent the issue, though there are also injections and topicals that can be prescribed.

Many medications are suitable for use on both cats and dogs, but it is vital to only receive them from a trusted vet. Depending on the type of medication, the age your pet can first start receiving treatment will vary. Most are safe for puppies between four to six weeks old, and six to nine weeks for kittens.

Other Preventative Tips

Reducing your pet’s exposure to mosquitoes is also vital for preventing heartworms. Mosquitoes can spread heartworms to more than one animal during their lifespan, so keeping your pets away from mosquito-infested areas is crucial. Combining physical preventative measures with medications is commonly referred to as the “Double Defense Heartworm Protocol.” There are several sprays and topical ointments on the market that are safe for your pet, including ones that help to prevent other parasites, like fleas and ticks.

Veterinary Services At All Aboard Animal Hospital

Protecting your pets is especially crucial in South Florida due to our warm and often wet conditions – especially in Pompano Beach. At All Aboard Animal Hospital, we provide several preventative services to keep your pets healthy and happy – including heartworm testing and preventative medications.

We are as dedicated to prolonging the health of your pet as you are. If you have any questions about our veterinary services or are ready to see which preventative measures are best for your furry loved one, call us today at (954)-785-7780!

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