Dr. Michaela Fry and Dr. Melissa Ehrisman of Pleasant View Veterinary Clinic, serving Mifflintown and Lewistown, PA, are professional veterinarians here for you and your pets. We know all about tick prevention, heartworm treatment, and so many other preventative measures. Dr. Fry, Dr. Ehrisman, and our veterinary professionals are happy to educate owners and prevent and treat disease in pets.
What Are Heartworms?
Heartworms are parasites that primarily affect dogs but can also attack cats. Your pet can get heartworms from a quick bite from a mosquito carrying heartworm larvae. Over six to seven months, these larvae grow into heartworms. They mature and survive inside animals’ pulmonary arteries and hearts. They are also known to lodge themselves into the lungs and surrounding blood vessels.
These parasites can live five to seven years, grow to be a foot long, and a single dog can host up to two hundred fifty worms at a time. Heartworms are not contagious, but they are easily spread through mosquito bites, making prevention of utmost importance.
Signs of Heartworms
Dogs and cats will exhibit no symptoms or signs during the first six months of contraction. After six to seven months, though, you’ll notice your pet has developed a cough. That cough will progressively worsen, making it difficult for your pet to exercise. Over time, pets will grow more and more winded and eventually begin passing out from a lack of oxygen and blood to the brain. If left untreated, heartworms are fatal for cats and dogs.
How to Prevent Heartworms
You or a veterinarian can prevent heartworms using monthly chewable pills, topical medications, or a six-month or twelve-month injectable. Some heartworm treatment is specifically designed to target heartworms, but most medications also contain preventatives for other parasites such as tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms.
Is Heartworm Prevention and Treatment Safe?
In the past, heartworm prevention medications used to have pretty significant side effects. That is because arsenic was the only option at the time. Drugs have improved tremendously, making them safer and more effective.
During this period, when the parasite bodies were being flushed out, pets were allowed to exercise, as usual, causing parasite-body-induced blockages in the heart and arteries. Heartworm treatment was also thought to be risky because pets would die after receiving the treatment. We now know that treatment kills the parasites and breaks them up.
Request an Appointment with Pleasant View Veterinary Clinic for Heartworm Treatment Today
Pleasant View Veterinary Clinic, serving Mifflintown and Lewistown, PA, is here for you and your four-legged friend. Speak to one of our knowledgeable veterinarians or staff members about heartworm treatment, tick prevention, and good spaying and neutering practices. Call us today at (717) 436-9790.