Heartworm can have devastating consequences for your pet, including death. It is especially tragic when dogs and cats succumb to heartworm disease when it’s entirely preventable. Now that warm weather is finally here, your dog or cat has a much greater likelihood of acquiring heartworm just by being outside since the most common route of transmission is a bite from an infected mosquito. However, pets can pick up the heartworm parasite any time of year. This is the reason we recommend year-round heartworm protection at Lancaster Veterinary Clinic.
Heartworm Prevention and Testing
Although it's more common for dogs to get heartworm disease because they make an ideal host and typically spend more time outdoors, it’s important to understand that cats get heartworm as well. Unfortunately, for our feline friends no effective heartworm treatment exists for cats who test positive.
Puppies should start preventive medication for heartworm by eight weeks old. While it isn’t necessary to test puppies that young before starting on a product, puppies over six months old do require testing. Puppies and dogs need only one simple blood test to determine the presence of heartworm. Similarly, cats should be started on a heartworm preventive once they are eight weeks old.
Common Signs of Heartworm Infestation
When dogs acquire heartworm, the parasite usually lives in the heart and the right ventricle. This produces the following types of symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
It’s also possible that your pet won’t show any indication of heartworm even when he has them. Sadly, the first indication of heartworm in some pets can be sudden collapse and death. All pets should have year-round heartworm protection, even those who never go outside. It’s too easy for mosquitoes to get into your home and infect them.
If you suspect that your dog or cat has heartworm based on these symptoms, please schedule an appointment at Lancaster Veterinary Clinic right away. We will complete testing and discuss treatment options if results come back positive.
It’s Easier to Prevent Heartworm Than Treat It
We’re happy to let you know that we carry many heartworm prevention products in our clinic and online store. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you would like a recommendation on the most effective product for your pet. You can schedule an appointment by calling our clinic at 608-723-6366.