Heartworm Disease, Prevention and Treatment
At MVS Pet Care, we provide initial testing and prevention medication for pets. Heartworm is a serious parasite infection that requires professional care by a veterinarian. If you live in the Tampa, Miami, or Palm Beach area, we want to share what MVS can do for your pet with regards to Heartworm.
Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite, a specific type of worm that lives in animals throughout its life cycle. This worm is spread by mosquitos, which carry the larval worm and pass them onto dogs when they bite (dogs are the most susceptible, but heartworms can also infect cats and ferrets, albeit to a lesser extent).
The larval worms migrate through the heart, lungs, and nearby blood vessels, where they mate and produce more larva into the bloodstream which are then picked up by mosquitos and the process starts over again.
When the heartworms are living in blood vessels, they can cause severe heart and lung disease by blocking and damaging arteries. These changes often do not cause clinical signs until there is congestive heart failure or acute death. This is why testing and prevention is so important.
Because of the serious damage that heartworms can cause, prevention is far preferable to treatment. Because we are in an area where your pets may be at risk for heartworms, it is important to talk to your vet about prevention and which prevention is best for your pet. There are a variety of products that can prevent heartworms, include tablets, injections, and topicals applied to the skin, so it is easy to find something that will work for your pet.
The American Heartworm Society recommends that dogs should receive heartworm prevention continuously (all year long) and have a heartworm test done annually to ensure there are no lapses.
Testing and Heartworm Treatment
It takes 6 months for the larval worm to mature, testing can only detect the adult female heartworms. However, the larval stage can still cause damage to the blood vessels. Testing for the adult worms is vital before starting heartworm prevention, as the adults can release toxins when killed resulting in anaphylactic shock and death.
The Heartworm Antigen test is a blood test for heartworm that can detect the immune response to the adult female worms. The test is designed to deliver immediate results and can be done in the comfort of your home with a veterinarian. If your pet does have heartworms, your veterinarian will work with you to start the treatment. It is vital to have x-rays and blood work to stage the disease before undergoing treatment. Treatment is expensive and involves, 2 injections into the deep muscle 1 month apart and hospital monitoring for anaphylactic reactions. Your pet will also need to be restricted on activity, because as the worms die, they can cause clots in the lungs and heart resulting in death.
Call MVS Pet Care of Florida Today!
If you have any further questions or would like to schedule an exam for heartworm-related issues or concerns, contact MVS Pet Care today. We serve the Tampa, Miami, and Palm Beach areas, and are happy to help you find the best veterinary treatment for your pet!
* Saturdays from 9am to 1pm - Our administrative staff at MVS Pet Care Florida are here on Saturdays between 9am and 1pm to take your calls and help schedule you for the upcoming week. Saturdays are a great time to work with our staff to schedule your visits in advance.