Heartworms are a serious threat to both dogs and cats. In the worst case scenario, heartworms can kill your pet. Fortunately, this dangerous parasite can be prevented very easily. However, current evidence suggests that many pet owners neglect protecting their pets from heartworm disease.
What are heartworms?
Heartworms are parasites, worms that live inside of your pet’s heart and blood vessels. They are transmitted by mosquitos and your pet can become infected if he is bitten by a mosquito that is carrying heartworms.
In dogs, heartworms cause damage to the heart and lungs, essentially causing heart failure. They can be fatal in extreme cases.
In cats, many cases of heartworms appear much like feline asthma. Heartworms affect cats a bit differently than they do dogs. Unfortunately, one of the symptoms seen with heartworm disease in cats is sudden death. Often, there is little chance to do anything for your cat before it is too late.
Heartworms are preventable
There are a number of different options available for preventing heartworms in both dogs and cats. These medications are safe and effective. They are also easy to use.
For dogs, heartworm preventives are available in the form of monthly tablets, many of which are flavored to be readily accepted by your dog. There are also monthly topical preparations that are applied to your dogs skin on a monthly basis. In addition, there is an injectable medication that is administered once every six months by your veterinarian.
In cats, options for heartworm prevention include a monthly oral medication or monthly topical preparations.
Preventing heartworms is much easier and safer than treating heartworm disease
While treatment for heartworm disease is possible in dogs, it is not guaranteed to be successful. There is risk of side effects during the course of treatment, some of which can be fatal to your pet. During treatment, your dog will need to be confined for a long period of time, usually weeks to months at a time, to reduce the risk of complications. Treatment is also expensive, much more expensive than the cost of preventive medication.
In cats, treatment options are limited. The medication used for treating dogs cannot be used in cats. In severe cases, heartworms may need to be removed surgically from the heart, a risky procedure at best.
In this interview, Dr. Sheldon Rubin, past president of the American Heartworm Society, talks about the latest recommendations involving heartworms in dogs and cats. Please take a few moments to listen to Dr. Sheldon’s recommendations. It could save your pet’s life.