What is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm is caused by a type of roundworm that lives inside the heart and blood vessels of the lungs. Heartworm disease is transferred by mosquitoes. It is a serious disease that primarily affects the heart and lungs but can also affect other parts if untreated, and can cause death.
Symptoms of heartworm disease are easy to miss. As the number of heartworms increases, the symptoms of coughing, lethargy, exercise intolerance, lack of appetite and weight loss become more apparent.
How is it diagnosed?
Heartworm is most commonly diagnosed using blood tests that detect the presence of heartworms. Many veterinarians run these fast, simple tests in the clinic and can give you results within minutes.
How is it treated?
Infected pets usually receive a series of injections, hospitalization and then strict confinement to limit exercise for weeks. Treatment is expensive and time consuming. For these reasons the goal should always be prevention rather than treatment of this disease.
The best way to treat heartworm is to prevent it in the first place. Fortunately, there are numerous safe and effective preventative medications available. Heartworm preventative medications are available from your veterinarian in many forms. In addition to protecting your pets from heartworm disease, many of the heartworm preventatives also protect your pet against other internal parasites. This is important because it helps prevent the spread of parasites. So not only are you getting heartworm protection for your pet but also peace of mind that your pet has not picked up parasites like roundworms that can be transmitted to other pets and even humans.