Heartworm is a parasite that often affects dogs, but can also affect cats, ferrets, and other animals. It is vital you use heartworm medicine to prevent them from growing in your pet. Left untreated heartworm will kill your animal friend. At Loves Park animal hospital, in Loves Park, IL., our veterinarian can help you get the right medication for your pet to make sure heartworms are not a problem. If your pet does contract heartworms, we can still provide medical treatment.
What are heartworms
Heartworms are spread by mosquitos and form in the heart and lungs of pets. While heartworm predominantly affects the heart, it can cause damage to other organs as well. Once your pet has contracted heartworms, the damage caused cannot be reversed. There are treatments that can get rid of heartworms, but even the treatment is hard on a pet. The best thing to do is to use monthly medication that will prevent them from growing in the first place. In Illinois, there are not many mosquitos around in the winter, but to be on the safe side your veterinarian recommends using treatment year-round.
How Heartworm Can Spread
Mosquitos bite dogs or other animals that have heartworm, and the infection spreads when they bite another dog or cat. Heartworms can live for five years or more inside a dog. Even worse, they can reproduce inside a dog. Each year when mosquitos are around, your pet could be infected with even more worms, which is why constant treatment is recommended.
Signs of heartworm
A healthy pet may show no signs of heartworm for a year or two after infection. Once signs start showing up, they tend to get worse. A constant cough decreased appetite, and weight loss is all signs of heartworm infestation. A pet with heartworm will also become less energetic, and less eager to participate in physical activities. Cats tend to not show as may symptoms and can die suddenly from the condition.
Heartworms damage the lining of the heart and lungs over time. They can cause heart failure in dogs. The damage caused by an advanced case is permanent, but there are treatments available. Your veterinarian can test for heartworms. Dogs should be tested yearly as part of their regular physical exam. If your pet tests positive, treatment is in order. The treatment is a multi-step procedure that is successful most of the time. Even so, if their heart or lungs are damaged, that damage will likely remain.
Give us a call
Call the Loves Park Animal Hospital today to get an appointment for your pet. We can help you get started on heartworm treatment, or we can test your pet if you suspect there is a problem. If you are in the Love, IL area, call (815) 986-4445 to make an appointment today!