Heartworms are more prevalent in pets these days, making prevention more important than ever. The average number of canine heartworm cases per veterinary clinic was up more than 20 percent in 2016 from three years earlier, according to the American Heartworm Society. Some clinics in metro Detroit reported as many as 50 cases last year.
If you wait until your pet is sick to think about heartworms, it’s too late. Even a pet that seems healthy could be ravaged by heartworms.
The tiny, parasitic worms get carried by mosquitos and enter a dog or cat’s bloodstream after a mosquito bite. Over the course of several months, the worms can grow to a foot long as they journey to the heart and pose a serious risk of damage to the lungs, heart and other organs. Heartworms can live several years inside a pet and, in dogs, can reproduce and cause fatal blockages of blood flow.
Pets living with adult heartworms often become less active and exhibit coughing, fatigue, decreased appetite and weight loss. But symptoms in the early stages of heartworm are not usually apparent, so regular testing is important. Because the disease progresses over time and can be fatal, early treatment is vital.
However, treatment is hard on a pet and can have many side effects. That’s why prevention is key.
At Strong Veterinary Hospital we agree with the American Heartworm Society that you ought to “think 12” – give your pet heartworm prevention medicine 12 months a year, and have your pet tested for heartworms every 12 months.
If you haven’t been giving your pet heartworm prevention medicine, we can test your pet right away. And we can recommend a heartworm pill that’s appropriate and effective for your dog or cat.