April is heartworm awareness month, so in honor, here are some facts to know about heartworms and prevention.
Heartworm disease is a very serious, and potentially fatal disease in both cats and dogs that is contracted through a simple mosquito bite. The disease gets the name “Heartworms” simply because the adult parasites live in the heart, as well as the lungs and associated blood vessels.
So, what could be some potential signs of your pet suffering from heartworms? In the early stages for dogs there may be few to no symptoms. This could lead to loss of body condition, a persistent cough and tiredness after activity. Pale gums or the mouth becoming too dry, problems with urinating or urinating dark matter. Cats, however, will show different signs because they are atypical carriers. In cats their symptoms could be coughing, asthma-like attacks, periodic vomiting, lack of appetite, or weight loss. On the more dramatic side of the symptoms there could be difficulty in walking, fainting or seizures.
So how do I know if my pet has heartworms? The best way to check for the parasite is to have your vet take a small sample of blood and run a test to check for the presence. If the test has a positive there are varying treatments that you and your veterinarian will discuss to safely treat your pet. If your pet’s test reads negative, HOORAY! Now prevention is key. There are a variety of monthly preventatives available ranging from a pill to topical, the key is to administer it monthly to get the most effectiveness out of your medicine.