What Should I Know About Heartworm Disease?


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If you’ve recently taken your pet to the vet and had the doctor tell you that your pet has heartworm disease, you might be wondering what steps you need to take. Before you make any decisions, you want to know all the basics about heartworm disease. How does my pet get them? How can I prevent them from getting it again? What is the correct treatment for heartworm disease? While heartworm disease is a serious illness, the good news is that there is a treatment that is effective and can save your pet’s health. Be sure to get your pet to veterinary laboratory services in order to ensure their health before the disease spreads and becomes more serious.

What is heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease is caused by foot-long worms called heartworms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of pets. It can affect many different pets like dogs, cats, ferrets, and other mammal species like wolves, foxes, and sea lions. The worms cause severe damage to your pet’s organs, which is what causes it to be fatal at times. If you catch your pet’s heartworm disease diagnoses early, you can make sure that you get your pet the right treatment and make sure it stays healthy.

How does my pet get heartworm disease?

Typically, heartworm disease is spread by mosquitos. When a pet is infected with baby heartworms called microfilaria, they circulate in the bloodstream. When mosquitos take a blood meal from an infected pet, they get the worms, which means when they go to take another blood meal from a perfectly healthy pet, they can transfer these worms onto the surface of their skin, which will then enter through the mosquito bite wound.

How does the vet test for heartworm disease?

The vet will give your pet a canine heartworm test which uses a blood sample from your pet. It is then sent to a clinical diagnostics laboratory for testing. They will look for the heartworm antigen. If the heartworm antigen is found and the pet tests positive, your vet will most likely order more tests.

What are the signs of heartworm disease?

Most of the time, there are very few signs to catch early that indicate that your pet might have heartworms. It takes about 6 months for baby worms to mature into adult heartworms, so before that, a pet owner might not be aware of the presence of the disease. This is why it is so important to take your pet to the bet for checkups. If there are signs, they include coughing, fatigue, decreased appetite, and weight loss.

If you’re thinking of taking your pet for a heartworm antigen test, it’s probably a good idea. Medication is not always available for every pet. For example, the medication used for dogs is not safe for cats, and cats, instead, rely on a stabilization program to help them manage the disease for the long term. Just to be sure, see your vet for a heartworm antigen test today.