Updated: Feb 14, 2021
What you need to know about preventing heartworms.
“Heartworms are parasitic worms that can infect cats and dogs and lead to severe organ complications. Luckily, by visiting your veterinarian regularly and following some recommended guidelines, you can prevent this condition and potentially treat it.”
1. How do animals get heartworms?
These long, thin, parasitic roundworms are spread through infected mosquito bites. The bites transfer tiny organisms that become larvae and eventually mature into worms that can travel to and clog the heart, lungs, and other organs.
Pets can contract heartworms throughout the country, particularly during hotter weather when mosquitoes thrive.
2. What are the signs of heartworms?
When dogs have this condition, they’ll display various symptoms, such as fatigue, decreased appetite, a mild cough, and weight loss. They may also have labored breathing or resist exercise. With cats, you may notice coughing, a lack of appetite or weight loss, seizures, fainting, or periodic vomiting. Additionally, your pet may experience trouble walking or exhibit a build-up of fluid in the abdomen.
3. How are they treated?
Heartworms aren't detectable until they've matured. When you begin noticing signs, take your pet to a veterinarian for a heartworm test, which entails collecting a small blood sample. The professional will then recommend the best treatment method based on their evaluation. They may also administer an antibiotic to prevent infection and a diuretic to remove the fluid. After this process, dogs will need to take a break from exercise for between one to three months.