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Heartworm Awareness Month

April is Heartworm Awareness Month! Is your pet current on his or her heartworm medication? If not, we recommend seeing to this right away. These disgusting worms are very dangerous, and can even be fatal! In this article from Westside Animal Hospital, a Savannah, GA vet discusses heartworms, and offers some helpful advice on keeping your beloved pet safe from them.

The Basics

Heartworms are parasitic worms that infest animals’ hearts, lungs, and arteries. It’s usually dogs who are affected, though cats can get heartworms too. The worms aren’t transmitted directly from dog to dog. Instead, mosquitos carry the worms from one pup to another. This means that your furry friend can get infected anywhere mosquitos are present, which is, unfortunately, pretty much anywhere.

Symptoms

Heartworms are in larval form when dogs initially contract them. You probably won’t notice anything unusual at first. It usually takes about six months after infection for symptoms to appear. Coughing is often the first sign of a heartworm infestation. Fido may become lethargic, and could get winded easily. He may lose interest in running and playing, and spend more and more time on his doggy bed. As the worms grow, they will begin to interfere with your pet’s vital organs. At that point, symptoms become much more severe, and may include fainting, seizures, and even heart attacks. Ask your vet for more information.

Treatment

Fortunately, heartworms are treatable. However, it’s much better to prevent infestations than it is to treat them. Treatment can be quite expensive, especially if surgery is required. Also, getting treated for heartworms isn’t necessarily easy on pets. The medication that kills worms can be pretty harsh on our furry buddies! Your dog may also need to be kenneled and/or have his movements restricted during treatment.

Prevention

Keeping up with your pet’s parasite control products is very important! If you give your furry pal their heartworm prevention on schedule, you won’t ever have to worry about them contracting these horrible parasites. Of course, if your four-legged friend has been off heartworm medication for a while, your vet will need to run tests before starting a new regime. This is because the medicine that prevents heartworm infestations won’t kill live worms. Ask your vet for specific advice.

Do you need to get your pet started on parasite control? Contact us at Westside Animal Hospital, your Savannah, GA vet clinic!

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