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Fullerton Animal Hospital Offers Heartworm Treatment

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 are 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.

Cat getting treated for heartworms.

What is Heartworm and How Can It Affect Pets?

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.

How Does the Fullerton Animal Hospital in Baltimore Test for the Parasite?

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.

Schedule an Appointment With Our Local Veterinarian Today

Contact Fullerton Animal Hospital today to schedule your pet’s checkup and to learn more information about the best prevention and treatment for heartworm. 

Your Baltimore Veterinarian Answers Common Heartworm FAQs

Heartworm is one of the most dangerous parasites that can infect your pet. Heartworm disease is transmitted to animals by mosquitoes. This serious and potentially life-threatening disease primarily affects dogs, but can also affect cats and other household pets.

Dog playing outside after his trip to the vet.

How Can My Pet Get Heartworm?

Heartworms are transmitted from animal to animal by mosquitoes. When an infected animal is bitten by a mosquito, the heartworm enters the mosquito’s system. When the mosquito bites an animal, such as a dog or cat, the infected larvae are transmitted to your pet. Within about six months, the larvae develop into adults, which eventually find their way to the blood vessels of your pet’s lungs. This thus damages the blood vessels, resulting in the inability of the lungs and heart to function properly.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Signs are not immediately apparent; in fact, many of the symptoms do not appear until after the disease in the later stages. If you notice your pet struggling to breathe, excessively coughing and has less energy than normal, you should contact the veterinarian as soon as possible. The adult worms cause serious harm to your dog's heart, lungs, and certain internal organs. Left untreated, the disease can result in loss of consciousness and death.

How Does the Veterinarian Test for Heartworm Disease?

The most common veterinary method of testing is with a blood sample. Your veterinarian in Baltimore may also use a method known as microscopic microfilariae to test for the early stages of heartworm.

Is There a Treatment For The Disease?

It is possible to treat the disease; however, treatment is often difficult, risky and expensive, especially in pets that have begun to exhibit signs of the late stages of the disease.

Can the Disease Be Prevented?

The problem is almost 100% preventable in cats and dogs. Early veterinary visits will allow your vet to recommend the best method of prevention for your pet.

It is important to keep in mind that the preventative methods to not kill the adult worms and will not eliminate the infection, so it is critical that you take the appropriate steps to prevent heartworm while your pet is a puppy or a kitten. Without appropriate prevention, this disease can be fatal for your pet.

Keep Your Pet Heartworm Free at Fullerton Animal Hospital

To schedule a veterinary appointment to learn more about heartworm prevention and to learn more about keeping your pet healthy year round, call us today at (410) 665-6996.