Every spring veterinarians in Joplin start recommending heartworm prevention in dogs and cats. Heartworms have been recognized as a life-threatening problem since 1920. Initially the disease was identified primarily in dogs. However, over the last twenty years, heartworms have been increasingly identified in cats and ferrets. The American Heartworm Society estimates that currently there are over a million dogs and cats infected with heartworms, and appear to be increasing in the U.S.A.
According to your Cornerstone Joplin veterinarians, heartworm disease is one of most serious and preventable problems they see on a regular basis. Mosquitoes are responsible for spreading heartworms from pet to pet. The larvae injected during a mosquito bite into a pet develop into a twelve to fifteen inch worm in the heart and pulmonary arteries during the next six months. Data released by the American Heartworm Society show that, in this area, only forty-six percent of the dogs are on heartworm preventative medication. This means that fifty-four percent of the dogs are susceptible to contracting heartworms from any infected mosquito bite.
Heartworms are seen regularly by Joplin veterinarians. In the dog, disease is primarily a disease of the heart causing Congestive Heart Failure at a younger age. Treatment to rid the dog of the heartworms is available but it is expensive. Finally the only way to prevent recurrence is to use a preventative medication. It is more cost effective and physically safer to keep the dog on a monthly preventative to prevent the development of the heartworms in the bloodstream.
The cat and ferret may also develop heartworms from a mosquito; the incidence is lower. However, according to Joplin veterinarians at Cornerstone, there is not any treatment to kill or remove the heartworms in these animals. The disease is not associated with the heart, but instead in the lungs. The clinical signs are associated with respiratory problems due to lung pathology such as coughing, such as asthma-like conditions, and sometimes sudden death.
Any Joplin veterinarian will say that the sad thing is this disease is totally preventable. Often people think their dog or cat is protected because they spend very little time outside. It only takes one mosquito to infect your pet. Mosquitos find their way into our houses through screens, doors and other openings. There are multiple options for preventing heartworms in our dogs and cats to include a long-acting injection for dogs. Contact your Joplin veterinarian to determine which preventative is best for your dog or cat. Don’t let your pet become succomb to heartworm disease.