April is Heartworm Disease Education Month! Heartworm disease is a fatal disease that is easily preventable. Check out this blog post to learn more about heartworm disease, diagnostics, treatments, preventions, and risks.STAH HW Blog (April 2019) (1)
Year Round Heartworm Prevention is the Best Medicine!
We know that you want what’s best for your pet. Know that you’re doing a great job by just walking through South Town Animal Hospital’s doors. We understand that your pet is your family and proper healthcare is an integral part of caring for your pet. A very important area of managing your pet’s health care is to have them on year round heartworm prevention. Heartworm prevention provides safety for not only your pet, but for your entire family!
Often times we think that during the cold winter months our pets no longer need heartworm prevention. Illinois winter temperatures range from below freezing to above 50 degrees. Since, mosquitoes will come out to bite in 50 degree temperature it is important that your pet is on heartworm prevention. Melanie McLean, D.V.M., a veterinarian at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that “You never know when the first mosquito is going to come out, or when the last mosquito is going to die. Heartworms have been reported in dogs in all 50 states, and just because you live in a state with a colder climate doesn’t mean that your animal is safe,”
Heartworm disease is increasing in the United States. According to the American Heartworm Society, positive heartworm cases have increased in veterinary hospitals 21% from between 2013-2016. This is due to climatic changes and the lack of year round heartworm prevention. Year round heartworm prevention is vital to the wellness of our pets!
The warmer weather not only brings out mosquitoes but also slushy muddy environments filled with other parasites. Roundworms, hookworms and other intestinal parasites that live in the soils can easily be ingested by your pet. Additionally, these creepy creatures can infest humans as well. Thankfully, year round heartworm prevention deworms your pets from these pesky parasites, keeping the entire family safe!
There are a few important things to remember about heartworm prevention:
- Make sure your pet is heartworm tested annually, especially before starting your pet on prevention.
- Give heartworm prevention on the same day every month.
- There are options! Heartworm prevention comes in different methods to administer. South Town’s favorite brand is Heartgard, and it comes in a yummy beefy chew! Dogs typically love it! If for any reason they don’t like the chews there are alternatives. Talk to a South Town team member if there are any questions.
- Heartworm prevention is very financially reasonable. You can protect your pet for under $12.00 a month. The treatment of the actual disease is very costly, with multiple veterinary visits. Because of the treatment’s high cost some owners are unable to comply. This contributes greatly to the spreading of the disease.
- Give heartworm prevention year round! Even if you think your pet is at low risk, you truly never know when parasites can strike!
To further discuss signs, symptoms, or prevention of heartworm disease please don’t hesitate to contact us at www.southtownanimalhospital.com or call us at 847-695-7387. A team member is always happy to walk you through any questions or concerns that you might have. Year round prevention is safer, easier, and more cost effective than the alternative. The best medicine for your pet is keeping your pet on monthly heartworm prevention throughout the whole year!
Heartworm disease: It’s something many dog owners have heard about but are not always sure exactly what it is. Heartworm disease is caused by foot-long parasitic worms that are spread through the bite of a mosquito. When fully grown these large adult worms live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of dogs causing potentially fatal blockages.
Mosquitos deposit the larvae into dogs when they take a blood meal. It takes 6 months for the larvae to mature into an adult. The adult worms produce “baby worms” called microfilaria which are picked up by mosquitos and the life cycle continues. Heartworms can live from 5 to 7 years in your pet!
Since there are virtually no early signs or symptoms of heartworm disease, testing yearly is vital. Symptoms are not present until the heartworms increase in size and numbers and create blockages in the heart or lungs. Some symptoms include coughing, reluctance to exercise, fatigue, decreased appetite and weight loss. Unfortunately, sudden death may be the only symptom.
Year-round prevention and annual screening is very important in protecting your pet from infection. Initial testing is vital before starting heartworm prevention.This is due to the fact that the medication can cause a mass die off of the microfilaria which in return can cause shock and potentially death for your pet. For this reason, heartworm preventative must be prescribed by a veterinarian after testing.
Heartworm disease is becoming more prevalent in Illinois. In some clinics in the Chicago area, there has been reported an average of 51 to 99 cases per clinic in 2016.
If your pet tests positive for heartworm disease, your veterinarian will order a follow up test to confirm the diagnosis. It is important to keep a heartworm-positive dog on very low activity to help decrease damage to the heart and lungs. There is treatment for heartworm disease but it is complicated and takes several months. The treatment is an arsenic type of medication and is costly. Monthly prevention is much more cost effective and an easier way to keep your pets heart healthy.
Overall, it is best to screen yearly for heartworm disease and to give heartworm preventative products such as Heartgard and Sentinel. Our knowledgeable staff is here to provide you with further information or answer any questions that you have on heartworm disease or prevention. We are here to keep hearts healthy for “Healthy Pets, Longer Lives”.