Atascadero Pet Hospital

Jan 31, 2014 3:55 PM by Atascadero Pet Hospital

Heartworm Disease and Prevention

Heartworm disease is caused by an infection of a parasite which is transmitted to your dog or cat by the bite of an infected mosquito. Eventually the adult heartworms inhabit the heart and lungs of your pet.

Early on, your pet may show no symptoms. Later in the disease, persistent coughing, weight loss, decreased appetite, reluctance to exercise or fatigue after moderate activity may be noticed.

Cats: signs may be confused with a respiratory infection (pneumonia) or asthma like symptoms like wheezing or shortness of breath.

Treatment is expensive if your pet is positive for heartworms and there are many risks while treating the disease. The good new is, this is a preventable disease.

The American Heartworm Society now recommends a year round prevention program, even in colder climates.

Prevention starts with a blood test to check for heartworms. If your pet is negative, they are placed on a monthly heartworm preventative by your veterinarian.

American Heartworm Society recommends yearly testing during your pet's annual exam, even if your pet is currently on a monthly heartworm schedule.

Ask your veterinarian to check for heartworms on your pet's next annual exam.

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