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What is Heartworm?
Heartworm is a parasitic worm that lives in the heart and bloodstream of your pet. It is spread through mosquito bites.
How can I prevent it?
Prevention is simple. Heartworm prevention can be given in the form of an oral pill or a topical drop. We recommend Revolution which is in the form of a topical drop. We recommend treating with heartworm prevention throughout mosquito season, usually this is June through November. It is given once a month throughout mosquito season.
Why do I need to test for heartworm if my pet has always been on prevention?
Even if your pet has always been on a preventative medication, it is important to do a blood test annually. We do not test puppies under 6 months of age as they were not born until after last year’s heartworm season. We do the blood test annually because giving heartworm preventative treatment to a pet that is positive for heartworm can potentially be detrimental to their health. If your pet is positive for heartworm they will require a different type of treatment.
Other Facts about heartworm
- Heartworms impair blood circulation, resulting in damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Serious damage may occur, even before outward clinical signs are detected by the owner.
- They are 6-14 inches long. Several hundred may be present in the dog!
- Advanced signs include difficult breathing, coughing, tiring easily, listlessness, and loss of weight, and fainting.
- Mosquitoes can survive the winter inside your home. A mosquito which is carrying heartworm disease is as much of a threat to your dog in the winter as in the summer.
- It only takes one bite for your pet to become infected
- Heartworm preventives WILL prevent new infections of heartworms, but it CANNOT prevent the progress of pre-existing heartworm infection.
We recommend that your dog be dewormed at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age. A fecal analysis should be run at least once within that time period to rule out any other species of intestinal parasites that may require an additional dewormer. If your puppy has a large worm load it can cause problems such as
- stunted growth
- vomiting or diarrhea
- blood in the stool
Your pet should have a fecal analysis run at least once a year throughout their lifetime. Even if your dog has been dewormed they are still at risk of becoming reinfected from external sources. We recommend doing this even more frequently if you dog eats raw food, eats feces from wild animals, spends a lot of time outdoors in places where they may be exposed to wildlife feces or if there are children in the household. Some types of worms can be transmitted to humans and can cause disease or illness.
Signs my pet may have worms
- Diarrhea (may be bloody or have mucus)
- ‘Pot-bellied’ appearance
- dull coat
- scooting (secondary symptom)
- scratching or skin irritation due to histamine reaction from parasite infection
- visible worms in fecal matter
Fleas are blood sucking pests that can turn into a big problem if not exterminated adequately and quickly. Fleas live on your dog or cat however can jump onto people and bite. Humans are not their preferred host however so they will not reside or reproduce on humans. Female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs a day and they can reach astronomical numbers in a very short period of time. Larva and eggs can stay dormant in fabrics within your home for up to 6 months so just when you think you have eradicated the pests, they suddenly appear again! If your pet becomes infested you need to treat not only your pet but their environment as well. It can become a very troublesome and costly process and so the best way to treat fleas is simply to prevent getting them. We recommend keeping your pet on flea prevention year round. Many heartworm preventative medications also include flea prevention which is handy for the summer months however we suggest giving a flea adulticide throughout the winter months as well. Fleas can be picked up from other animals as well as from the environment. Fleas can cause problems such as:
- itching and discomfort
- tapeworm infection
We recommend using Revolution to prevent flea infestations. We DO NOT recommend using flea products from pet stores or Walmart. This is because these products work very differently than the prescription medications we give in clinic. These products use pesticides and in some cases can cause severe reactions in your pet that can sometimes be fatal.