Reasons Heartworm Prevention Is Necessary
If you're a pet owner and live in St. Augustine, you've heard of heartworm. That's because heartworm disease is prevalent all along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It's because of the mosquito population. Here, at Forever Vets Animal Hospital, we're passionate about your pet's well-being. That's why we take heartworm prevention seriously. Take a minute and learn more about this serious disease and why we make sure our patients' owners take prevention as seriously as we do.
Heartworm Is a Big Deal
The reason animal care providers worry so much about heartworm is because it's a potentially fatal disease and it's not an illness that shows up immediately. Often by the time we discover heartworm in your dog or cat, they've been infected for months, sometimes a few years. The disease is caused by an infestation of footlong worms. The worms live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Dogs, cats, and even ferrets are susceptible. Although pets all over the country can get heartworm disease, pets living in areas with high mosquito populations are even more at risk. Why mosquitoes? Mosquitoes spread the disease when they bite your pet.
How Do I Know My Pet Has Heartworm?
In dogs, you may not see any symptoms at first, but over time, you'll notice your once lively pet doesn't show interest in exercise and tires quickly. They usually develop a cough, eat less, and lose weight. Heartworm is different for cats. While they share some symptoms with dogs, the disease is more subtle in cats. They may act like they have asthma, vomit, and even collapse suddenly. We encourage people to keep the number of an animal hospital or emergency vet in St. Augustine, FL, handy. As soon as you notice any sign of illness in your pet, even if it's not heartworm symptoms, the sooner you get them to their vet.
We Test for Heartworms
Like many other pet diseases, heartworm is preventable. That's why we perform regular heartworm testing for dog, starting when they're puppies. When you bring your dog to visit for the first time, we'll go over the heartworm protocol, test, and give preventative treatment. In cat's the disease isn't as prevalent, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have your cat tested. Heartworm is more difficult to detect in cats and your vet may need to use ultrasounds or X-rays. Here at Forever Vets Animal Hospital, we provide emergency veterinary care, but we also administer tests when you pet isn't ill.
Is There Medicine for Heartworm?
For cats, there isn't an approved treatment yet. Prevention is the best medicine we have right now. If your dog has heartworm disease, we can start a treatment program. Treatment depends on the stage and severity of the disease. You'll work with your vet to come up with an appropriate treatment plan. The good news about heartworm disease is that we can prevent both dogs and cats from getting it in the first place.
If you have more questions about heartworm prevention, Forever Vets Animal Hospital is here to help. Contact us today and let's work together to keep your pet healthy! We have 8 convenient locations with extended hours. Serving Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Orlando, St. Johns, St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and more.