Answering Your Questions about
At Kindred Care Pet Hospital, we know you want the best for your pets and don’t want them to suffer from heartworm disease. The good news is, we’re here to ensure your dog, cat, or even ferret ever has to.
How Are Pets Infected with Heartworms?
Mosquitos are the main culprit. An adult female produces microscopic baby heartworms (microfilaria) that circulate in the bloodstream of its infected host animal. When another mosquito bites that host, it ingests baby worms, which develop into “infective stage” larvae in a 10-14-day period. When that infected mosquito bites another car, dog, or wild animal, the infective larvae enter their new host.
It takes around six months for a larva to sexually mature. After reaching maturity, a heartworm can live up to seven years in dogs and three years in cats.
How Can I Tell if My Pet Has Heartworm Disease?
In the disease’s early stages, dogs show little or no signs of symptoms. As the infection persists, more signs of ill-health often develop.
Cats can have either subtle or very dramatic signs of the disease. Sometimes a cat will have difficulty walking, experience seizures or fainting, or suffer from abdominal fluid accumulation. Too often, the first sign in cats is sudden collapse or death.
When Should My Pet Be Tested?
All dogs should be tested on an annual basis for heartworm infection. Here are some guidelines for testing:
- All puppies under seven months of age should be started on heartworm prevention. Your puppy should be tested six months after your initial visit and annually from there on.
- An adult dog over the age of seven months but not previously on a preventive should be tested before starting heartworm prevention.
- Annual testing is a must, to ensure your dog’s heart prevention program is working.
It is harder to detect heartworm disease in cats because they are much less likely to have adult heartworms. Your veterinarian uses both an antigen and an antibody test to screen cat for exposure to heartworm infection. Since there is no approved treatment for heartworms in cats, prevention is essential.
What if My Pet Tests Positive for Heartworms?
After your veterinarian determines your pet is determined to be stable, he will follow guidelines developed by The American Heartworm Society for a plan of action.
Call us at Kindred Care Pet Hospital to learn more about heartworm prevention and treatment or schedule an appointment with our veterinarian,
7039 FM 1464, Suite 240 Richmond, TX 77407 Phone: (281) 265-0009 Phone: (281) 201-1305 Fax: 1-844-649-1432