Even though it seems like Mother Nature can’t decide if it should be winter or spring in Minnesota, the snow will eventually give way to warm temperatures and more time spent outdoors. While the warm-up is certainly welcome after months cooped up inside, it’s important for pet owners to keep in mind that spring also means an increase in the heartworm parasite.
How Companion Animals Acquire Heartworm
A mosquito infected with heartworm can transmit the parasite to your pet through a single bite. Once in your pet’s body, heartworm can reproduce multiple times and grow to a length of 12 inches.
Heartworm infection is much more common in dogs but deadlier in cats. For cats, there is no approved treatment for heartworm. Puppies can begin preventive medication by eight weeks old without the need for any type of testing first. Once your puppy reaches six months old, we need to ensure that he’s heartworm negative before offering you preventive medication.
Heartworm Testing and Prevention in Dogs and Cats
The veterinarians at Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo can tell if your dog has heartworm with a single blood test. With cats, it requires multiple blood tests to make a firm diagnosis.
We follow the guidelines of the American Heartworm Society and recommend that clients provide their pet with heartworm prevention 12 months a year. Not only does this keep heartworm from seriously threatening your pet’s health, it kills other parasites that could also be living inside of your dog or cat’s body.
Indications Your Pet Could Have Heartworm
As you might expect, dogs and cats experience different symptoms when they have heartworm. Cats will struggle to breathe due to the heartworm invading their lungs. In dogs, heartworm tend to live in the heart as well as its ventricles. Your dog will likely display at least a few of these symptoms:
· Appetite loss
· Weight loss
Heartworm treatment is long in duration and uncomfortable for your pet. It's also expensive for you. The good news about heartworm is that it’s nearly always preventable. Our veterinarians are happy to discuss different products with you to determine which one is most appropriate for your pet. Some of the things we consider when making a recommendation include whether your pet is a dog or cat, her age, physical condition, and everyday lifestyle. It’s just one more way that we at Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo demonstrate our commitment to quality preventive care for your beloved pet.
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