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Have a Heart – Protect Your Pet From Heartworm!

With the summer season upon us, and the mosquitoes out, there is a parasite that pet owners need to be aware of, and their dogs and cats protected from.

 

Heartworm is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by a parasite that resides in the heart and blood vessels of infected animals.  Mosquitoes are able to transmit the infection by first biting an infected animal, picking up the parasite during blood feeding, and then transferring it to another animal, through its saliva, when biting them.

 

Once injected, the immature worms develop, migrating to the lungs and potentially the heart, where they mature into adults and begin to reproduce.  Infestations, depending on the severity, can result in hundreds of worms residing in your dog or cat, resulting in significant damage to the heart, lungs and liver. If left untreated, it can be fatal.

 

Heartworm can only be transmitted by infected mosquitoes, however, there is no way to determine if a mosquito is infected or not! Once infected, treatment is possible, however it can be costly and there is still an element of risk in the procedure.  That’s why prevention is so important!

 

For dogs, it is recommended to do heartworm testing on an annual basis. This involved taking a small sample of blood to check for the presence of the heartworm parasite. If the test comes back negative, preventative medication is dispensed, to be administered on a monthly basis throughout the summer months (June through November).

 

Preventative medication comes in two forms – either as a tablet that is taken orally, or as a liquid that is applied to their skin and absorbed into the bloodstream.  The medications often also help to protect from other parasites such as fleas.

 

Ask your veterinarian which is preventative medication is best for your pet!

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