Are you familiar with the health conditions common in big dogs? Your large breed dog may be at increased risk of developing one or more of these conditions.View Article
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Both dogs and cats can get heartworm disease. It is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito who has picked up the eggs from other infected animals. When it bites your pet the mosquito deposits the larvae into the animal's bloodstream. Once they enter the bloodstream of your pet they take about six months to develop into adult worms. At Hickory Grove Animal Hospital we have heartworm prevention and treatment for your pet.
When your dog has heartworms they may develop a cough, swollen belly, fatigue, eat less, and have trouble breathing. If left untreated, heartworms can cause severe problems to the heart. The worms often live in the lung and heart. Cats with heartworm develop coughing, wheezing, vomiting, lack of appetite, and it often causes sudden death. It's important to have your pet tested and checked for this disease during your pet's wellness exams.
Our vet will take a blood sample from your pet to be sent to the lab to look for heartworm proteins as a sign of the disease. Once the results are in the doctor will tell you the results and treatment can begin. After your pet is diagnosed more tests may be given before treatment.
Dogs under 7 months should be given heartworm protection and tested for the disease. Regular testing yearly is recommended by the vet. The vet will prescribe medications for prevention that must be taken every month. It is highly effective but sometimes does not protect your pet from getting the disease. Cats do not get heartworm as much as dogs. Our vet will use an antigen or antibody test that tests for exposure to heartworm. They may use ultrasound or x-rays too in both dogs and cats to confirm results.
The vet will often take an x-ray or use an ultrasound test to confirm the diagnose. Often your dog will be given treatment using steroids, antibiotics, and medications before hospitalization. This helps to kill adult worms and strengthen the immune system for fighting infections. Sometimes corticosteroids are prescribed to reduce inflammation. After that, the treatment for dogs consists of a series of injections that takes 60 days to complete. It is an approved drug by the FDA that is injected into his back.
When your dog gets the injection it has to stay in the vet hospital for observation for side effects. Steroids may be prescribed with the injections. Cats can be treated with the same drug but the risks are severe side effects and death. The other treatment for cats is corticosteroids and oxygen therapy. Drugs to remove fluids are often prescribed. Some cats can outlive the life of the worms. Another option with cats is surgical removal of the heartworms.
Contact our veterinarian in Charlotte NC to make an appointment and test your pet for heartworm. We want to help you prevent and treat heartworm in your pet. Call 704-563-5858 today.