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Posted on 10-03-2018

Heartworm Treatment and Prevention Tips from our Watertown Veterinarian

Each year as the weather starts to warm, many beloved pets are infected with heartworm disease. Pet owners need to learn about this potentially deadly condition in order to protect their pets. Here's what Watertown Animal Hospital, PC wants all pet owners to know about heartworm treatment and prevention.

pet owner holding a small cat in her hands

What is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease is a serious health condition caused by the heartworm parasite, Dirofilaria immitis. Mosquitos spread the parasite's larvae to animals. When mature, heartworms can measure up to a foot long. They damage the internal organs of their hosts, including the lungs, heart, and blood vessels. If left untreated, heartworm disease can be fatal.

Heartworm Symptoms and Treatment

Early on, many animals don't show signs of heartworm infection. Later symptoms of heartworm can include:

  • Dry cough
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of energy
  • Vomiting
  • Asthma-like symptoms in cats

If you suspect your pet may have heartworm, it's important for them to receive veterinary care as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will test your pet for heartworm.

Heartworm in Dogs vs Heartworm in Cats

If a dog tests positive, they will most often receive several injections of a heartworm medicine. The American Heartworm Society recommends testing heartworm-positive dogs six months after treatment to ensure the parasite is gone.

Cats test positive for heartworm less frequently than dogs. Unfortunately, the heartworm treatment used for dogs does not work for cats. Most often, cats are just monitored carefully by their veterinarian. In some cases, heartworm in cats can clear up on its own. 

How to Protect Your Pet from Heartworm Disease

It's much easier (and less costly) to protect your pet from heartworm than it is to treat the disease. As a bonus, many heartworm preventatives also provide flea and tick prevention. The American Heartworm Society recommends year-round heartworm prevention for all pets. Prevention options include:

  • Monthly liquid medicine that's squeezed onto your pet's back
  • Monthly chewable oral medicine
  • Injectable medicine (for dogs only)

Contact Our Watertown Veterinarians for Heartworm Prevention

Don't let your pet get heartworm this year! Start a heartworm prevention program right away. To make an appointment at Watertown Animal Hospital, call us today at (860) 274-2212. New patients receive 15% off their first visit with our Watertown veterinarian.

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