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There are a variety of parasites that may invade your pet’s body, but one of the most dangerous and life-threatening parasites is heartworm. This extremely dangerous parasite for dogs as well as cats is commonly carried by mosquitos. Once heartworm has been transmitted to the animal by a mosquito it begins to mature inside the animal's body; when fully matured, heartworm can measure as much as 12-inches in length and they generally live in the blood vessels of the heart and the lungs. Fortunately, your veterinarian in Baltimore can help you prevent your pet from getting heartworm.
Heartworm is a parasite carried by infected mosquitoes. When your pet is bitten by an infected mosquito, the larvae of the heartworm are passed from the mosquito to your pet through the blood ingested by the mosquito when it bites the animal. The heartworm is small, threadlike worms that migrate in the blood vessels of your pet’s pulmonary system and generally remain in the lungs and arteries of the lungs and often times the heart. It typically takes about six months after being bitten by the larvae to mature and it can live in your pet for as long as seven years. It is also possible for heartworm to travel outside of the lungs and heart, which leads to other serious illnesses, such as seizures and blindness.
Your veterinarian will generally do a blood test and a comprehensive examination to test your pet for heartworm. If the blood tests confirm the animal has heartworm, the veterinary center will do a variety of other tests, such as additional blood tests and x-rays, to determine the severity and extent of the heartworm infection. Once your vet has confirmed the severity of the infection, they will talk with you about the most appropriate treatment for your pet.
The most important thing to remember regarding heartworm is that it is 100% preventable, so it is essential that you talk with your veterinarian about treating your pet with heartworm prevention medicine. Your vet will be able to advise of the best age in which to treat your pet. Along with preventative medicine, there are a few other things you can do to reduce the risk of your pet getting heartworms, such as frequently changing the water in your pet’s bowl (mosquitoes love stagnant water) and don’t let your pet play in areas where water puddles occur, such as near the trash cans, downspouts or pools.
Contact Fullerton Animal Hospital today to schedule your pet’s checkup and to learn more information about the best prevention and treatment for heartworm.