Here at Lakeville Animal Hospital, our veterinarian has seen many pets suffering from heartworms. However, dogs are typically affected more than cats. This serious condition can result in permanent health issues or even death for your furry companion. Read on to learn more about these parasites, heartworm treatment, and preventative care available for pets.
What is Heartworm Disease?
Pets contract heartworms by being bitten by infected mosquitos that transmit a parasitic worm (Dirofilaria immunities) into the animal’s bloodstream. Those with multiple pets don’t face the risks of other animals contracting the disease, as it’s not contagious.
However, the risks of catching the disease are a possibility in all 50 states, especially in communities near bodies of water and those with warm, humid climates. Once bitten by an infected mosquito, these worms mature into adults, mate, and grow in numbers while harboring inside the pet’s heart, blood vessels, and lungs.
Should your pet become infected, treatment options for heartworms can be administered by our veterinarian. Unfortunately, detection of heartworms takes at least five months after infection. This allows the disease to progress to advanced stages in many cases, making aggressive treatment a priority.
However, in rare cases, any damage to your pet’s internal organs may be so severe by the time it’s detected, that treatment may not be feasible or successful. Highly advanced cases may only allow the pet to have a life expectancy of only a few weeks or months.
Thankfully, there is a new medication that is highly effective at killing adult heartworms without many of the dangerous side effects of previous treatment options. An injectable medicine, Melarsomine (Immiticide®), has been proven to eradicate more than 98% of heartworms present in the pet’s infected organs and adjacent blood vessels.
Melarsomine involves a series of three injections, with the first one administered on their first visit and the other two given 30 days afterward. We also give pets a treatment that kills juvenile heartworms either after or before the Melarsomine treatments. Our vet will also prescribe antibiotics to remedy any infectious bacteria that heartworms may be carrying.
Heartworm Prevention Options
The best way to keep pets healthy from several diseases—including heartworms—is by taking preventive action. Fortunately, several options can stave off parasites and invasive disease carriers like heartworms, fleas, and ticks. Chewable treats are available, as well as prescription strength meds from our vet.
Lakeville Animal Hospital Offers Heartworm Treatment & Preventative Care
Call Lakeville Animal Hospital today at (508) 947-1309 for more information on heartworm or to schedule an appointment with our veterinarian.