Heartworms are parasites that are passed to dogs and cats by mosquitoes. They are found in all 50 states, but are most prevalent in the southern United States due to mosquito populations. This means that pet owners in Starkville, Columbus, and Louisville, Mississippi need to protect their pets year round.
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition. Heartworms enter the bloodstream and settle in the heart chambers where they mature. Once grown, they can spread to the great arteries of the body and affect your pet's cardiovascular health. There are few, if any, early signs of heartworm disease in dogs and cats. Heartworm positive dogs will eventually experience difficulty breathing and decreased physical activity. It is a serious, progressive disease, but the earlier it is detected, the better the chances that your pet will recover.
At Starkville Veterinary Hospital, we can test for the presence of heartworms quickly, easily and economically. If your dog tests positive for heartworms, further tests may be ordered, you will need to restrict your dog’s exercise, your dog’s condition will need to be stabilized, treatment will be administered, and further tests will be taken later to determine the success of the treatment.
If your dog’s test results come back negative, then Dr. Shy will start your dog on the appropriate preventive treatment that you will need to administer year-round for the rest of the animal’s life. These preventive medications come in several forms, including topical applications and tasty treats.
Dogs need to be tested annually, even when they are on heartworm prevention year-round, to make sure that the preventive program is working.
Cats should be put on a preventive treatment and tested as recommended by your veterinarian. Cats are not a natural host for heartworms however, just a few can make a cat very ill. Prevention in cats is critical because there is no approved drug treatment for heartworm infection in cats. If your cat tests positive for heartworms, they can be helped with good veterinary care and a long-term management plan.
If you haven’t had your companion pet tested for heartworms, schedule an appointment today with Starkville Veterinary Hospital. Our doctor and staff will work with you to determine the best heartworm preventative for your pet’s lifestyle.