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postheadericon What are heartworms

What are heartworms? Heartworms are large parasitic worms that live in the hearts of dogs, cats, and some wild animals. Heartworm larvae make their way to the heart of the animal within about 70-90 days. Providing both male and female worms are present, they will produce their own larvae within 6-7 months following the initial insect bite. Symptoms Your pet will show no early symptoms once infected with heartworms. Blood tests will return normal results. In mild cases of the disease, the animal will develop a cough. Any abnormal persistent cough should be checked by a veterinarian immediately. As the disease escalates with the growth of the heartworms in both size and number, the symptoms increase as well. In cases of moderate infection, your pet will exhibit a cough, intolerance to exercise, reduced appetite, lethargy, and weight loss. A check up at the vet will show abnormal lung sounds while blood tests will show evidence of kidney and/or liver damage. Once a heartworm infestation reaches the severe stage of disease, the animal is dying. Prevention and Treatment If you own pets in an area where mosquitoes are prevalent, seek your veterinarians advice regarding heartworms. Heartworms can be prevented with a once a month chewable tablet that will protect your pet from these as well as other parasites. There are a few options for treatment for heartworms. After the evaluation of heart, kidney, and liver functions to determine if the pet is strong enough for treatment, they are often given an arsenic-based compound to kill the adult heartworms in their system. For advanced infection where the animal is in critical condition, the veterinarian may opt to remove the worms with surgery through the jugular vein. This procedure only removes enough worms to restore blood flow. Following treatment, the animal will be placed on restricted exercise for an extended period of time so the animal’s body has enough time to absorb the dead heartworms without complication. Once heartworm tests return a negative result, then the treatment is considered a success. Conclusion The American Heartworm Society (AHS) states that only 55% of dogs in the United States receive regular preventative care for heartworms leaving 27 million dogs at risk for the disease. Remember, that when it comes to heartworms, prevention is more effective and a lot less expensive than treatment.

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