Heartworms are a type of parasite that can affect your pet's organs and can be fatal if not treated. At Lakewood Pet Vet Animal Hospital in Lakewood, CA, we offer heartworm treatment and prevention to keep your pet happy and healthy. You can learn more about the disease below:
What Causes Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis. This parasitic worm is transmitted by mosquito bites, which can infect an animal. Mosquitos bite an infected animal. When they bite another animal, they pass baby heartworm, called microfilaria, to this animal.
The microfilaria is deposited onto the skin and enters a cat or dog’s system through a mosquito bite. Once the heartworm enters the body, it begins to develop, which takes about 6 months. Mature heartworm can live for up to 7 years in dogs and 3 years in cats. Since the parasite can live inside your pet’s system and they reproduce, your pet can have many heartworms inside their body.
Symptoms of Heartworm Disease
Heartworms will cause little to no symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms are also different in cats and dogs. Let's take a closer look at these differences below:
Symptoms of Heartworm in Dogs
Symptoms of heartworm in dogs include chronic cough, exercise intolerance, decreased activity level, reduced appetite, and unexplained weight loss. As the heartworm grows, the symptoms get more severe. Heart failure can cause the stomach to become swollen, as it causes fluid to build up in the abdomen. If your dog has several heartworms, they can cause blockages in the heart, which can cause cardiovascular collapse and is often fatal.
Symptoms of Heartworm in Cats
Heartworms in cats can cause a persistent cough, difficulty breathing, lack of appetite, vomiting, and weight loss.
Long-term heartworms can cause damage to the heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, and liver in both dogs and cats.
Heartworm is successfully treated in more than 95% of dogs. Treatment begins with medication to kill the heartworm larvae. Then, our vets will administer medication to kill the adult heartworms, which is given by an injection. Your pet may need to stay at the vet for observation while they receive this treatment. Typically, they will receive treatment once a month until it is complete. We may also prescribe medication to prevent any infections from occurring.
Heartworm prevention is simple, as all you’ll need is a prescription for heartworm prevention medication from our veterinarians. Chewable medications, topical medication, and injections are all prevention options.
Contact us for Treatment Today
If your pet has heartworm or you simply need routine veterinary care, our team at Lakewood Pet Vet Animal Hospital in Lakewood, CA, can help. We offer treatment for heartworm and a variety of conditions to help improve your pet’s quality of life. Contact us at (562) 925-2300 to schedule your appointment!