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All About Heartworms

April is Heartworm Awareness Month! While it’s much more fun to talk about spring, Easter, or other seasonal topics, it is important for people with pets to understand what heartworms are, and why they are so dangerous. Read on as a local Dunn, NC vet offers some basic facts about these disgusting and deadly parasites.

Transmission

Heartworms do not spread directly from dog to dog. Heartworms are instead transmitted by everyone’s favorite insect: the mosquito. Basically, wherever there are mosquitos, there may very well be heartworms. This is quite sobering, as mosquitos are in every state. Fido doesn’t even have to go anywhere to be infested: he can get bit right at home.

Infestation

After a dog has been infested with heartworm larvae, the worms will start growing rapidly. Within about six months, you’ll start to see symptoms appear. As the worms grow larger, they will infest Fido’s heart, as well as his lungs and arteries. This is extremely dangerous! Left untreated, heartworms are, unfortunately, often fatal. It’s worth noting that, while both dogs and cats can contract heartworms, infestations are much more common in dogs.

Symptoms

Coughing is usually the first sign of a heartworm infestation. Other symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, shortness of breath, lethargy, and dizziness. Fido may not feel very playful, and may not want to exercise. Down the road, more serious symptoms and complications appear. These may include fainting, abdominal swelling, and even heart attacks.

Treatment

There is both good and bad news when it comes to heartworm treatments. The good news is that there are treatments available, and they are often successful. The bad news is that treatments can be quite pricey, and they also aren’t much fun for Fido. Your canine pal may need to take some pretty strong medications. He may also need to be kenneled during treatment.

Prevention

When it comes to treating health problems in pets, it’s always better to prevent an issue than to try and treat it. It’s also a lot cheaper! Fortunately, all you need to do to keep your canine pal safe from these horrible worms is to keep up with his parasite prevention regime. Ask your vet for more information.

If you know or suspect that your furry friend needs heartworm treatment or medication, please call us right away. As your local Dunn, NC vet clinic, we are always here to help!

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