Aug 15

Heartworm Treatment and Prevention: Dogs and Cats

Heartworm treatment and prevention is about saving lives. Heartworm disease is something that needs to be taken very seriously for our dogs and cats. It’s easy to prevent, easy to diagnose, but not always easy to treat.

Heartworm treatment in dogs and cats

heartworm treatment dog cat

Photo credit: American Heartworm Society

Dogs are more likely to have heartworms than cats are. Cats are naturally more resistant to infestation, but it can still happen. It’s critical to know that even though a cat is less likely to have heartworm disease, that if they do get it, they cannot be treated for it. Heartworm treatment medications that are used for dogs are not safe for cats.

Dogs can be treated for heartworms, and the sooner the better. There are a couple of different treatment options available, and a veterinarian will need to decide which option is best for your dog. That decision will depend a lot on the severity of the infestation and correlating symptoms. One option is slower, taking months to gradually and steadily kill off the worms. Another option is much faster, but if a dog is in poor health already or has a heavy load of worms, it can present additional risk. A veterinarian may want to do an ultrasound or radiograph to get an image of the amount of worms and damage to the heart and lungs to determine the best protocol for your dog. During either treatment, it is very important to remember that your dogs’ activity should be limited.

Heartworm testing and prevention!

Photo source: American Heartworm Society

Photo source: American Heartworm Society

Dogs and cats should be tested for heartworms annually. The test only requires a small sample of blood. It’s important to stay on schedule with this for two reasons: the less amount of time your pet has had heartworms, the easier and safer treatment will likely be, and if a pet does have heartworms, it could be harmful to suddenly start giving them heartworm prevention. Stay on schedule!

Prevention is given to dogs and cats orally, topically, or by injection. Tablets and topical applications should be given monthly, and injections are every six months. There are a variety of brands on the market, and many of the tablets are flavored so that dogs especially are happy to take their preventative as a treat.

Heartworm prevention has a very high rate of success, is easy to protect your pet’s life with, and in the long run, a year’s worth of heartworm prevention will cost a lot less than heartworm treatment for just one infestation and correlating health problems. Some preventatives even have the added benefits of preventing intestinal parasites too!

Make a promise.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? When it comes to the lives of our furry family members, we think it’s worth a lot more than that. Our pets are priceless. They enhance our lives every day with affection and laugh-inducing antics. Let’s make a promise to support their quality of life in return.

 

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