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Heartworm Awareness Month

Did you know that April is Heartworm Awareness Month? While heartworms aren’t the most appealing aspect of pet care to talk about, it is important to understand what they are and why they are so dangerous. These disgusting parasites can be deadly to our canine pals! A local Somerville, MA vet discusses heartworms in this article.

Dangers

As the name suggests, heartworms are worms that infest pets’ hearts, as well as their lungs and blood vessels. The worms are transmitted while they are in larval form. For the first few months, infestations are painless and asymptomatic, and cannot even be detected in tests. However, as the worms grow, they interfere with pets’ circulation and respiration. This is extremely dangerous! Left untreated, infestations are, unfortunately, often fatal.

Symptoms

Coughing is one of the earliest signs of heartworm infestations. As the infestation progresses, Fido may become fatigued easily, and/or lose his breath quickly. Weakness and weight loss are also warning signs. Severe infestations can cause more serious symptoms, such as fainting, and can eventually lead to heart attacks. Contact your vet immediately if you see any of these warning signs in your canine buddy.

Transmission

Heartworms aren’t spread directly from dog to dog. Instead, mosquitos transmit infected blood from one pooch to another. Therefore, dogs that are not on preventive medication can get heartworms anywhere there are mosquitoes, even if they’ve never had direct contact with an infected pup.

Treatment

There are treatment options available for heartworms. However, treatment can be quite intense, especially with severe infestations. Fido may need to be kenneled to restrict his movements. He may also need to take some powerful medications. In some cases, surgery may be required. This can be costly, and isn’t much fun for your pet. This is why preventative care is so crucial.

Prevention

Fortunately, there are both oral and topical medications that will keep Fido safe from these terrible worms. Make sure to give your pet his medication on time, and you will never have to worry! Just keep in mind that the medication that prevents infestations won’t kill live worms, so if there is a gap in your pet’s preventative care history, your furry friend will need to be tested before starting up again. Ask your vet for more information.

Please contact us, your Somerville, MA pet clinic, for your dog’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!

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