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Preventing Heartworm Disease in Pets

Heartworm disease is a serious condition that can result in severe lung disease, heart failure, organ damage, and even death in pets. Our Clemmons vets explain why preventing heartworm is much better than treatment.


What is heartworm?

A parasitic worm called Dirofilaria Immitis, which is spread through the bite of a mosquito, is the primary cause of heartworm disease in pets living in the Winston-Salem area. 

The worm makes your pet (mainly dogs, cats and ferrets) their 'definitive host'. This means that the worms mature into adults, mate and produce offspring while living inside your pet. 

These worms are known as heartworms because they live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of infected animals.    

What are symptoms of heartworm disease?

Sadly, the symptoms of heartworm aren't apparent until the disease has progressed severely. Typical symptoms of progressed heartworm disease include coughing, difficulty breathing, fatigue, a swollen abdomen, and weight loss.

How do vets detect heartworms in pets?

Blood tests are used by vets to detect heartworm proteins (antigens) in your pet's blood.

Heartworm proteins cannot be detected until about 5 months after an infected mosquito bites your pet.

What if my pet is diagnosed with heartworms?

Preventing heart disease is much cheaper and better for your pet than treatment.

A number of treatment options are available if your pet is diagnosed with heartworm disease. Your veterinarian can help you to choose the right treatment for your animal.

Keep in mind that treatment is expensive and requires multiple visits to the vet, bloodwork, x-rays, hospitalization, and a series of injections. It's also potentially toxic to your pet’s body and may cause serious complications.

The FDA has approved an arsenic-containing drug called Melarsomine Dihydrochloride to kill adult heartworms in pets. This drug is administered by your vet through an injection into the back muscles of your pet.

Topical FDA-approved solutions are also available to treat heartworm. These solutions help to get rid of parasites in the bloodstream when applied to your pet's skin. 

How can I prevent my pet from getting heartworm disease?

The primary way of preventing heartworm disease is by keeping your pet on a prevention medication available from your vet.

Even if your pet is already on preventive heartworm medication, our Clemmons vets recommend testing your pet for heartworms annually.

Many heartworm preventive medications will also protect your pet against other parasites including  roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. 

Heartworm prevention is easy, safe and much more affordable than treating the progressed disease. Speak to our veterinarian professionals about heartworm prevention for your pet.

Heartworm Prevention is part of our annual Wellness Plans. Choose the Wellness Plan that's right for your pet.

Protect Your Pet From Heartworm | Clemmons Vet

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