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Your Dog and Heartworm

April is Heartworm Awareness Month! We know, heartworms aren’t the most pleasant thing to discuss. However, these disgusting parasites are very dangerous, and can even be deadly. Therefore, it’s very important for pet parents to understand what they are, and why they are so dangerous. In this article from Armitage Animal Clinic, a local Sharon, ON vet discusses heartworms.

Basics

Heartworms are, as the name suggests, parasitic worms that infest pets’ hearts. The worms also inhabit dogs’ lungs and blood vessels. They are transmitted from dog to dog via mosquitos. Since mosquitos are, unfortunately, pretty much everywhere, your pet doesn’t need to have direct contact with an infested dog to contract heartworms. The worms are in larval form at the time of infection, but grow quickly. Full-grown heartworms will interfere with Fido’s vital organs, and can even cause heart attacks. This is very dangerous, and can even be fatal.

Kitties

Cats can also contract heartworms. However, kitties aren’t ideal hosts, so they rarely have adult worms. However, it’s still important to keep Fluffy safe from infestations with parasite control products.

Symptoms

Generally, coughing is one of the earliest signs of a heartworm infestation. As the worms grow, your canine pal will also become easily fatigued, and may lose his breath easily. Trembling and weight loss are also signs of heartworm infestation.

Prevention

Luckily, it is very easy to protect your dog from heartworms. Just be sure to keep up with Fido’s parasite control regimen, and you won’t have to worry! It’s worth noting that heartworm prevention products won’t kill live worms, so your pooch may need to be tested before starting a parasite control program. Ask your vet for more information.

Treatment

There is both good and bad news when it comes to treatment options for heartworms. The good news is that treatment options do exist. The bad news? They can be quite pricey, and they are not necessarily easy on Man’s Best Friend. Fido may have to take some very powerful medications. He might also have to be kept in a kennel during the course of treatment, to ensure that he doesn’t overexert himself. Severe infestations may require surgery. It’s much easier to protect your pup from these horrible parasites than to treat an infestation!

Please contact us, your Sharon, ON vet clinic, for all your dog’s veterinary care needs. We are here to help!

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