Our pets have a special place in our lives. They're our constant companions and oftentimes our best friends. That's why it's so important to keep them healthy. One important way to keep your pets healthy is to protect against heartworm, which is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets. Once a dog or cat gets heartworm, it can be very difficult to treat. That's why it's so important to be proactive in preventing this deadly disease. At Jane Animal Hospital in Toronto, we're well equipped to help dogs and cats avoid getting heartworm. Read on to learn all about heartworm, how to prevent it and how we can help.
All about heartworm
Because most dogs and cats spend at least a little bit of time outdoors, they're exposed to a variety of parasitic creatures. Some of these creatures include mosquitos and similar disease carriers. When a dog or cat gets bitten by a mosquito, it can be exposed to parasitic worms, which can infiltrate a dog or cat's heart and lungs, causing heartworm. This can become extremely dangerous, as it can lead to progressive cardiopulmonary failure and cause death.
How do you know if your pet has heartworm? If dogs have heartworm, they usually cough a lot, their energy level can significantly decline and they may have pale gums and fluid on their abdomen. If cats get heartworm, they usually vomit, lose weight and begin to suffer from respiratory problems that seem like asthma symptoms. In both dogs and cats, untreated heartworm can lead to lung and heart failure, resulting in death.
Once a dog or cat has heartworm, it can be very difficult to treat. That's why heartworm prevention is so important.
At Jane Animal Hospital in Toronto, we know that your pets are huge parts of your family. You want them to be around for as long as possible... and we do too! That's why we recommend a proactive approach to heartworm treatment.
We're more than happy to put your dog or cat on a schedule of preventative heartworm medications. Many of these medicines come in both oral and topical forms and are usually given monthly. In addition, we have an injection that protects against heartworm for up to six months at a time. By making an appointment with us, we can discuss all possible heartworm prevention options so you can make the best choice for your pet's unique needs. However, before any heartworm prevention can be administered, your pet must first be tested for heartworm. If your dog or cat tests positive for heartworm, he or she can't take preventative medications. It's a good idea to have your pet tested for heartworm if you move to a region in which heartworm is popular or if your pet has gone a long time without heartworm medication.
Help protect your pet against heartworm by calling us today
We really can't stress the importance of heartworm prevention enough! To protect your beloved dog or cat from this serious threat, let our experienced Toronto veterinarians here at Jane Animal Hospital administer the proper heartworm preventative care or treatment. To schedule this today, please call us at (416) 762-5558. We hope to hear from you soon!
Heartworm Testing FAQs
Heartworm treatment for dogs is a long and dangerous process, and there isn't an approved treatment at all for cats, so testing and preventing heartworm before it starts is the best way to keep your pets healthy. At Jane Animal Hospital, we recommend that all of our pet patients be tested for heartworms. Owners naturally have questions about this dangerous parasite, and these are some of the more common ones we hear.
What are Heartworms in Dogs?
Heartworms in dogs are worms that can infest an animal, living in the heart, lungs and blood vessels. These worms, which can grow up to one foot in length, can take valuable nutrients away from your pet, and if left untreated can be deadly. Heartworms affect dogs much more often than cats, but they can be seen in both animals. They're transmitted by mosquitoes, by biting an infected pet before biting an uninfected one and transferring the worms into her bloodstream.
How Often Should We Perform Heartworm Testing?
We recommend that all of our pet patients be tested for heartworms at least once each year. We make heartworm testing an important part of your pet's annual comprehensive wellness examination.
How Do You Test for Heartworms?
The most common test for heartworms is a blood test, or more specifically an antigen or microfilaria test. We'll do the antigen test first, which detects the presence of female heartworms six or seven months after infection. If this test is positive, we may recommend the microfilaria test, which will show if your pet is infested with full-grown worms.
What is the Most Common Heartworm Treatment?
If your dog is shown to be infected with heartworms, we'll begin a regimen of antibiotics, steroids, and preventative medication that can take up to 60 days to kill the adult heartworms. This is a serious treatment that's very hard on a dog's body. There are no approved treatments for heartworm in cats. Because of the seriousness of this disease, we recommend that all pets be given regular heartworm prevention medication all year long. We offer a simple chewable medication which you can administer at home.
Contact Us To Get Your Pet Tested for Heartworms
If your dog or cat hasn't yet been tested for heartworm or begun preventative medication, it's time to make an appointment with our office. Give us a call at (416) 762-5558 and we'll schedule a visit that fits in with your busy lifestyle.