Did you know heartworm disease affects more than 30 different species of animals? Recent studies indicate that although heartworm infection is easy to protect against, only 59% of dog owners and less than 5% of cat owners protect their pets by giving them a heartworm preventive! And with heartworm disease now reported in all 50 states, this disease is becoming a bigger problem everyday.

Heartworm infection takes place when a mosquito carrying microscopic heartworm larvae bites a susceptible animal such as a dog or cat. The larvae then enter a blood vessel in the pet and are carried to the arteries in the lungs. There, both live and dead worms can cause potentially life-threatening inflammation in your pet. Though heartworm disease symptoms vary, dogs may cough, have difficulty breathing, and wear out quickly (referred to as exercise intolerance). In cats, the most common signs are coughing, difficulty breathing, and vomiting, but the heartworm disease can also cause blindness, convulsions, diarrhea, fainting, and loss of appetite or weight.

It is essential to have your dog tested for heartworm infection before initiation or restarting any heartworm preventive. Administration of preventives to dogs that already have heartworm disease can sometimes cause life threatening reactions. Annual testing is the only way to reassure you that your dog is heartworm free, and in cases where the animal is infected, an annual checkup with Citrus Animal Clinic ensures early diagnosis and maximum benefits from heartworm therapy. It is far more difficult to test for heartworms in cats, making early and regular preventive care a must.

Heartworm preventives are the best way to keep your pet heartworm-free. Preventives work by killing heartworm larvae that infected your pet in the last 30 days, before the larvae have the opportunity to develop in to adults. These products also protect against intestinal parasites, such as hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms. Some products even have activity against fleas and ear mites. Citrus Animal Clinic carries a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection, including monthly tablets, chewables, and topicals. When they are administered properly and on a timely schedule, they can completely prevent heartworm infection. Compared with the risk and cost associated with treating heartworm-infected dogs, heartworm prevention is safe, easy and inexpensive. The American Heartworm Society recommends year-round prevention, even where mosquitoes are seasonal.

You can protect your entire family by giving your dog or cat a monthly broad-spectrum heartworm preventive. At your next visit to Citrus Animal Clinic we will be happy to talk to you about a preventive plan that is perfect for you and your pet.

Please call us at 863-465-2176 if you notice any of these symptoms in your pet.