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Heartworm Disease in Cats and Dogs

WHAT IS A HEARTWORM DISEASE?

Heartworm disease is a very serious and potentially fatal disease which has been reported in all 50 states.  It is caused by a blood-borne parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis.  This disease is transmitted to dogs and cats by the bite of an infected mosquito. When the mosquito stings a dog or a cat, it releases a parasite larvae into the animal’s blood. These larvae develop further in the body and migrate into the vessels. It takes seven months, once a dog or cat has been bitten, for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms.  Once fully grown, they will lodge themselves to the heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels and begin reproducing.

SYMPTOMS OF HEARTWORM:

Initially, there are no symptoms of heartworm in infected dogs or cats.  But as more and more worms grow and become mature, they crowd the heart and lungs causing the dog or cat to develop a cough.  As the disease progresses, the animal will have a hard time exercising and will begin to experience the feeling of being winded.  With severe heartworm cases, a dog or cat can pass out from the loss of blood to their brain, and they can also begin to retain fluid.  If left untreated an animal with heartworm will eventually succumb to this disease.

DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT OF HEARTWORM:

Veterinarians can detect a heartworm infection by testing the blood of the dog or cat. Once diagnosed, a treatment plan will be put in place.  There are only a few injectable medications to treat heartworm.  To safely treat heartworm, an x-ray of the dog or cat’s chest and a blood test will determine the seriousness of the disease.  During treatment dogs and cats are to be kept very quiet and for several months after their treatment because as the worms begin to die, they break into pieces, which can cause a blockage of the pulmonary vessels leading to death.

PREVENTION:

There’s only one way to prevent heartworm disease in dogs and cats and that is by giving them a monthly pill or topical medication that is put on their skin or a six-month injectable.  This prevention kills the mosquito larvae before they develop into adult worms.  For the price of a weekly Starbuck’s coffee, you can treat your pet monthly and keep them healthy!  There is no season or time of year where heartworm a dog or can can’t develop heartworm.  That’s why year-round prevention is a must!

*Miami Pet Concierge provides professional and quality care for Miami’s pets. Our customized care is based on our client’s pet’s breed, age, and health. For more information please visit www.miamipetconcierge.com.

Keeping your pets “happy, healthy, home”! ™

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