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The Dangers of Heartworm

Did you know that April is Heartworm Awareness Month? We know, it’s much more fun to read about Fido’s favorite toys or Fluffy’s adorable antics. However, keeping your beloved pet protected from heartworms is very important! Heartworms are very, very dangerous to our animal companions. Left untreated, heartworm infestations can even be fatal. Read on as a Lansing, MI vet lists some ways to keep your pet safe from these horrible parasites.

Basics

Although cats can—and do—get heartworms, it’s much more common to find infestations in dogs. This is because anatomically, dogs make perfect hosts for these little monsters. As the name suggests, heartworms are worms that infest pets’ hearts, as well as their other major organs. As the worms grow, they begin to interfere with the heart and other vital organs, and start causing some very serious problems.

How Heartworms Spread

Unlike fleas and ticks, heartworms do not directly jump from one pet to another. Instead, they are transmitted by everyone’s favorite insect, the mosquito. Since mosquitos are, unfortunately, pretty much everywhere, this means that your pet can contract heartworms anywhere, even inside your home.

Symptoms

Heartworms can only be transmitted when they are in the larval stage. If an infected mosquito bites Fido, you won’t see any symptoms right away. However, as the worms begin to get bigger, you’ll start to see some red flags, such as coughing, fatigue, listlessness, breathing trouble, and reduced interest in play. Serious infestations can have some very serious symptoms, such as fainting, heart attacks, and even death.

Treatment

There are treatments available for heartworms. Unfortunately, they are often costly. Being treated for heartworm isn’t easy on Fido, either. The drugs that kill heartworms are very powerful, and must be administered with extreme caution. In severe cases, surgery may be required. Dogs often must be kenneled to keep them from overexerting themselves during the treatment. This can be frustrating for our canine pals, who don’t understand what’s going on. Once treatment is complete, your pet may need to remain on medication indefinitely.

Prevention

Now for the good news: protecting your four-legged buddy from heartworms is very easy! All you need to do is keep up with Fido’s parasite prevention regimen. Ask your vet for more information.

Is your pet overdue for heartworm treatment? Contact us, your local Lansing, MI animal hospital, today! We are here to help!

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