April is National Heartworm Awareness Month. Heartworm is a serious disease that is easy to prevent, but very costly and difficult to cure once it’s in the advanced stages. Keep your pet healthy by keeping yourself educated and read more about heartworm below.
What is it? Heartworms are a parasite that embed themselves into a pet’s heart. While dogs are more susceptible, cats can contract heartworm as well. The larvae can live out its life cycle inside it’s host while mating and creating more worms. While pets living in warm, moist environments have a bigger chance of contracting the parasite, any pet in the US could potentially contract the heartworm. These worms may be passed to people as well.
What causes it? Heartworm is contracted through mosquito bites. A mosquito bites an infected dog and then transfers the parasite larvae to other dogs.
What are the signs? Signs of heartworm include a nagging cough, a loss of appetite, weight loss and a decrease in energy.
What happens if left untreated? The heartworm parasite lives in the blood vessels surrounding the pet’s heart and can cause heart failure. If allowed to advance, heartworm can be very costly to treat and can affect your pet’s health long after treatment.
How can I prevent it? Ensure that your pet is tested annually for heartworm (more often if preventative is not regularly administered) and keep them on a monthly preventative. This medication not only prevents heartworm disease, but also treats your pet for some of the most common gastrointestinal parasites, including roundworms and hookworms.
Ask your vet about options today!