Heartworm Disease – The Facts to Know

If you live in Texas, you have certainly heard about this serious and potentially life threatening condition that affects dogs and cats. Heartworm is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, so no dog or cat is immune. The parasitic worm lives in the heart, lungs, and related blood vessels. The most important thing to know is that most pets do not show signs of heartworm infection. Your veterinarian can do a simple heartworm test.

We cannot stress enough the importance of this test, as again, your pet may not exhibit any signs of heartworms. Dogs with heartworms may have a cough, become intolerant to exercise or become lethargic, or have difficulty breathing. Cats’ symptoms include coughing, vomiting, difficulty breathing, weight loss or lethargy. The main concern about heartworm disease is, if untreated, it can develop cardiac problems and retain fluid in the lungs and abdomen. Please see your veterinarian if your dog or cat has any of these signs and get them tested. Most veterinarians recommend having your pet tested once a year – but speak with them to determine how often your pet should be tested. Embrace your vet as another family doctor.

In dogs, heartworm disease is treatable. There aren’t any approved treatments for heartworms in cats; however, there are medications to help improve the breathing complications. The good news is early diagnosis makes early intervention possible. This means your dog will have a greater chance of surviving a heartworm infection.

We recently adopted Sadie Pearl, a chocolate lab who is heartworm positive. With advice from our Veterinarian, we opted for the slow kill method for her treatment. Sadie Pearl now takes a monthly heartworm pill after having a month long dose of antibiotics and a veterinarian administered oral heartworm medication. This is one of the many methods available depending on the duration and the severity of the infection.

We can’t stress enough how serious heartworm disease should be considered in your pet’s welfare while living in Texas. The disease is preventable and very easily treatable. We encourage you to speak with your veterinarian and make prevention a priority for your furry kids.