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Heartworm Awareness Month

Did you know that April is Heartworm Awareness Month? Heartworms are one of the most common—and most deadly—parasites that can threaten our canine companions. A Dallas, GA vet goes over some heartworm basics in this article.

Basics

Heartworms are aptly named. These nasty parasites infest the hearts and lungs of dogs, foxes, wolves, and coyotes. (Cats and ferrets can also get heartworms, but it’s much less common.) The worms are transmitted from dog to dog by everyone’s favorite insect, the mosquito. That’s one reason heartworms are so prevalent. Fido can get infested even while he’s snoozing in his doggy bed at home! It usually takes about six months from the time of infestation for heartworms to reach adult size. They can live up to 7 years in dogs and up to 3 years in cats. As the worms multiply, they begin to interfere with dogs’ vital organs. Left untreated, heartworm infestations can be fatal.

Symptoms

Coughing is often one of the earliest signs of heartworm infestations. Your pooch may also become tired out very easily, and may lose interest in running and playing. Over time, he may not even want to walk very much. Loss of appetite is another warning sign. Severe infestations can also cause fainting and even heart attacks. Contact your vet right away if you suspect your furry friend may have contracted heartworms.

Treatment

Heartworms can be treated, but the process can be expensive. It also isn’t very fun for Fido, especially if the infestation has really taken hold. Treating severe cases may require surgery, which can be pricey. Dogs may also need to be kenneled during the course of treatment, to keep them from overexerting themselves. In many cases, dogs suffer permanent damage to their hearts, lungs, and arteries, even after the worms have been defeated.

Prevention

This is definitely a situation where an ounce of treatment is worth a pound of cure! Keeping up with your pet’s parasite control products will help protect him from these dangerous parasites. It’s worth noting that if your pup hasn’t been on heartworm preventative, he’ll need to be tested before beginning a parasite control regimen. That’s because the medicine that prevents infestations will not kill live worms.

Does your pet need heartworm prevention products? Please contact us, your Dallas, GA vet clinic, for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!

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