Many illnesses that threaten the health of your animals are preventable including heartworms. April is Heartworm Awareness Month, and the animal professionals at the Humane Society of Forsyth County would like to talk about the importance of monthly Heartworm preventatives to keep your animals safe from contracting this potentially deadly parasite.
How is Heartworm Disease Transmitted?
The most common ways for heartworms to be transmitted to your pets is through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes literally ingest microfilaria (baby worms) from an infected animal during their blood meal before potentially transferring it to the next animal it bites which could be your beloved pet. Once mature, heartworms can live 5-7 years inside your animal and cause extensive damage.
What are the Signs of Heartworms in Dogs & Cats?
In the early stages of heartworm disease, there are little to no signs or symptoms that may alert you to a potential problem. Once the baby worms begin to mature your pet will begin to show signs of illness. Since signs and symptoms differ between dogs and cats it is important to know what to look for in both.
– Dogs: The most common signs of heartworm disease in dogs include persistent cough, little desire to exercise, decreased appetite, fatigue, and weight loss.
– Cats: Symptoms range from dramatic to subtle depending on the animal, but many cats experience the following symptoms: asthma attacks, vomiting, weight loss, lack of appetite and in some cases, they have difficulty walking.
Importance of Heartworm Testing
t is important that you have your dog or cat dog tested annually for heartworm disease even if your animal has been consistently given monthly prevention. Your veterinary can administer the heartworm test during your pet’s yearly wellness exam. Remember, Heartworm prevention can only be purchased with a prescription from your veterinarian with proof of a heartworm test that has been administered within the last 12 months.