Heartworm Awareness Month: 5 Tips to Remember

Heartworms are parasites transmitted through mosquito bites. When a mosquito bites the pet, parasites enter the body, using the blood vessels to travel to the heart and lungs. Heartworms remain in the organs for around six months, using the time to mature into adults and reproduce. Adult heartworms can grow to 12 inches. Dogs can have up to 100 worms living in their organs. 


April is National Heartworm Awareness Month. It is time to find out more about the deadly parasite. Here are tips to remember during this special month. 


Heartworms Are Deadly Parasites


It is vital to understand that heartworms can cause heart failure and even death. Heartworm treatment is available, and it is usually successful. But the worms can damage the pet’s body, causing irreparable damage. 


They clog the blood vessels and arteries, affecting blood flow around the body. Pets experience breathing difficulties, and the organs fail to function as they should. If not treated, the pet dies from organ failure.   


Heartworms Can Be Anywhere


There was a time when people thought that heartworms only affected pets in the Southern states, where mosquitoes were more prevalent. Yet mosquitoes can fly long distances and travel anywhere. 


According to the American Heartworm Society, there has been evidence of infestations throughout the country. States once considered safe have reported cases of heartworm disease. Pet owners must protect their furry friends regardless of location. 


Heartworms Treatment


It helps to know that heartworms are treatable. However, the treatment comes at some risk to the pet. The drug that kills the adult worm can affect the pet’s body, causing it to break down. Many vets will prescribe antibiotics with the treatment to counteract potential infections. 


If the pet has too many heartworms, killing them all at once can harm it, sending it into shock. In such cases, the treatment is administered in two doses. 


Heartworms Prevention


Your pet contracting a heartworm infection can be terrible, but the good news is that it is possible to prevent it. Owners need to protect their pets. You can save your pet from unnecessary suffering by having it on preventative medication. 


With monthly, year-round treatment, your pet does not have to go through pain. It can remain safe from the deadly parasite. To be effective, heartworm preventative medication must be administered strictly on schedule.


Identify Heartworm Symptoms


As a pet owner, you need to know how to identify symptoms of heartworm infection. If you are late with heartworm prevention, you need to look for signs of infection. Symptoms include weight loss, a dry cough, lethargy, unwillingness to play or exercise, and respiratory problems. Poor-looking or rough coats can also be a sign of heartworm infection. If you notice the symptoms, visit a veterinarian immediately. 


Heartworm disease can lead to permanent heart damage. It can affect the pet’s health and overall quality of life. When you get a new puppy, you need to begin heartworm prevention at eight weeks. Consistent year-round medication will help keep your pet healthy and happy. 


For more on Heartworm Awareness Month and things to remember, call Mokena Animal Clinic at (708) 479-2811 to reach our office in Mokena, Illinois.