Heartworm Disease Prevention
People are familiar with the discomfort caused by mosquito bites as well as the diseases they can cause such as West Nile Virus and Malaria. Our canine and feline companions are at much greater risk of developing a disease from mosquito bites here in the United States. Heartworm disease in dogs is just as it sounds: long, translucent worms that occupy the right chamber of the heart as well as the artery leaving the heart that goes to the lungs. This can result in severe respiratory disease and/or heart failure leading to death. Heartworm disease in cats, unlike in the dog is strictly a lung disease that leads to respiratory problems and death in many cases.
Fortunately detection and prevention of heartworm disease for our pets is a routine procedure provided by your veterinarian. Your pet should be blood tested once a year for heartworm disease. It is the only way that we can know for sure that your furry friend is free of the disease. Prevention is achieved using a once-a-month medication either in the form of a chewable tablet or a topical liquid. These preventive medications protect your pet from intestinal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms as well. Intestinal parasites are a threat year around so it is recommended that the preventative be administered monthly on a continuous basis. A six month injectable preventative is also available.
Treatment of heartworm disease involves using arsenic based compounds and can be very expensive. For these reasons it is much safer, cheaper and easier to use a once-a-month prevention. Some companies guarantee their product and will pay for treatment if a pet is tested positive while taking their product provided it is purchased through a veterinarian. (For example: if a dog vomits up a preventative tablet in the backyard)
Don't risk your companion's life to this deadly disease. Make sure to do yearly blood testing and use a heartworm preventative.
Humphrey Roberts, D.V.M.
Wheeling Animal Hospital and Pet Resort/Wheeling, Illinois
Higgins Animal Clinic/Chicago, Illinois
Arlington-Golf Animal Hospital/ Arlington Heights, Illinois