Heartworm is a parasite transmitted to your dog or cat through an infected mosquito. This type of roundworm primarily affects dogs, but can also infect cats, coyotes, wolves, foxes, and ferrets. Here at Bridgwater Veterinary Hospital and Wellness Centre in Winnipeg we believe that the best treatment for heartworm starts with prevention. We've provided these prevention and heartworm treatment FAQs to help you understand what heartworm is, how we treat an infestation, and how best to protect your pet.
What Are the Signs of Heartworm Disease?
Once a dog becomes infected with heartworm larvae through a mosquito bite, it can take about six months for symptoms to start to show. As the worms mature, early signs of the disease include coughing and exhaustion after physical activity and weight loss. As the disease progresses, your dog may faint, cough up blood, and show disinterest in typical activities he usually enjoys. As a dog enters the final stages of the disease, he will eventually experience heart failure, caused by caval syndrome, which indicates that the growing mass of worms blocks the blood flowing through the dog's heart.
How Can Early Stage Heartworm Disease Be Detected?
Your veterinarian can detect a heartworm infection through a blood test. This test will detect proteins produced by heartworms. It's important to note, however, that the earliest that we can identify these proteins is about five months after infection. This is why it's essential to make sure that your pet is on a monthly preventative for heartworm. The frequency and timing of heartworm testing will depend on how long your pet has been on the heartworm preventative if there were any missed doses, and whether or not your dog has recently visited an area prone to heartworm outbreaks.
How Is Heartworm Disease Treated?
If your dog or cat becomes infected with heart disease, there is treatment available, but it's long, expensive, and extremely physically stressful to your pet. Your pet will receive injections of melarsomine dihydrochloride into his back muscle to kill the adult worms, plus moxidectin and imidacloprid, to remove juvenile worms from his bloodstream. He may also need antibiotics and cortisone drugs. On top of all that, your pet will need to be on bed rest, which usually requires keeping him crated and calm. Treatment isn't easy, which is why the best treatment for heartworm is to avoid it at all costs by making sure you give your pet preventative treatment.
How Is Heartworm Disease Prevented?
Anti-heartworm medications are available and recommended for preventing heartworm infection in your pet. These medications are available through a prescription from your veterinarian in Winnipeg. You can choose a monthly tablet or a heartworm preventative injection every six months. These treatments are life-saving and can save you and your pet an enormous amount of pain and expense by keeping him protected. Additionally, many heartworm treatments pull double-duty, protecting against a variety of other parasites, including hookworm, roundworm, flea, and tick infections.
Call us at (204) 452-0911 to talk with one of our professional veterinarians about heartworm prevention and treatment. They will work with you to determine the best course of action to make sure that your pet is protected.