Heart-worm Prevention

Heartworm disease is a devastating parasitic infection that can lead to heart failure, lung disease, and other organ damage in affected pets. The bad news is that heartworms are rampant in hot climates like Florida’s; the good news for Odessa pet owners is that heartworm disease is entirely preventable.

Since April is National Heartworm Awareness Month, this is the perfect time to remind Odessa pet owners and all animal lovers about the importance of year-round heartworm prevention. Read on for valuable information from our team at Caring Paws Animal Hospital about protecting your pets from heartworm disease.

Heartworm Disease: Understanding the Basics

The first question most Odessa pet owners ask is, how does my pet “catch” heartworm disease? The answer is that these dangerous parasites are spread through mosquito bites, and in Florida’s heat, mosquitoes are a major nuisance all year long. It takes just one mosquito bite to infect a dog, cat, or ferret, with dogs providing the ideal environment in which heartworms can survive and reproduce. 

What are the Symptoms of Heartworm Disease?

Coughing is often the first sign that a pet has been infected with heartworms. Other symptoms can include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Respiratory problems
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Collapse

If your pet experiences any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact your veterinarian right away. We make the diagnosis of heartworm disease through a blood test, and we might also suggest an X-ray to gauge the seriousness of the infestation.

Keep Pets Safe with Proactive Heartworm Prevention

Protecting pets from heartworm disease is much more cost-effective and safer for pets than treating them after the fact for heartworm infestations. And, sadly, there is no treatment for cats once they’ve become infected. 

Options for heartworm prevention include:

  • Chewable tablets given monthly
  • Injections administered every 6 months
  • Topical medications that are applied monthly

Your veterinarian can recommend the appropriate year-round heartworm prevention based on your pet’s weight, age, and the presence of other health conditions. Many of these heartworm prevention medications will also protect your pet from fleas, ticks, ear mites, roundworms, and hookworms. 

Heartworm Treatment

If, in spite of our best efforts, a pet is infected with heartworms, we will administer injections on a monthly basis coupled with prescription oral medications until all of the larvae and adult heartworms have been eradicated. Animals in the midst of heartworm treatment must remain as inactive as reasonably possible. As the heartworms succumb to the treatment, they die, and can flow into blood vessels, which results in dangerous blockages. Keeping the pet still gives the pet’s body time to absorb the worms as they die.

Together, We Can Protect Your Pets from Heartworm Disease

Being able to spend time outdoors is one of the things we all love most about Florida, but for the safety of your pet, year-round heartworm prevention is paramount. Please contact us to schedule a wellness visit so we can get your pet started on appropriate heartworm prevention medication.