As Spring approaches, so does flea season which means a greater chance of heartworm disease in your dog. Heartworms is a silent killer that is often overlooked until it’s too late. This preventable condition starts with a mosquito bite and usually ends with a long, expensive treatment and sometimes even death.
At Cypress Hospital, we aim to keep your dog healthy and happy which is why, this month, we’re offering a free heartworm test with purchase of 6-months worth of products.
Symptoms of heartworms may not appear until the worms reach maturity which usually takes around 6 months. The parasites go through several life stages before emerging as adults, and often need at least two hosts to complete the cycle. In heartworms, a mosquito serves as the intermediate host for the larval stage of the worm.
The mosquito ingests the larva when it bites an infected dog and deposits its cargo in an uninfected dog. The larva burrows into the dog and undergoes several changes to reach adulthood. It then travels to the heart through a vein and waits for the opportunity to reproduce. Adult heartworms can reach 12 inches in length and can, unfortunately, remain in the dog’s heart for several years before any symptoms are shown. Here are some of the things to look out for in your dog:
- Inactivity or Lethargy
Your pet suddenly seems tired more often, and doesn’t want to go outside, or avoids all physical activity. Dogs with heartworm infection are weakened and find it difficult to be active even when performing small tasks.
- Rapid or Difficult Breathing
Along with coughing, breathing problems occur when the worms inhabit the lungs and surrounding veins. Fluid can also build around the blood vessels in the lungs, making it difficult for the lungs to oxygenate the blood.
- Dry Cough
The parasites make their way to the lungs and start multiplying in the lungs and surrounding veins. Coughing may be most noticeable after exercise and may end with fainting. Even light exercise can cause fainting.
- Weight loss
Even minor physical activities, such as eating, can become difficult and exhausting chores. If your pet experiences rapid weight loss then take your dog to the vet immediately.
- Allergic Reaction
Although allergic reaction is more common in cats, it is possible for dogs to show symptoms similar to an allergic reaction or asthmatic symptoms in response to the heartworms or their offspring.
Large numbers of heartworms invade the heart and cause blockage of blood flow (known as caval or vena cava syndrome). Collapse is usually accompanied by shock and red blood cell destruction. Death can, unfortunately, follow within days.
Luckily there is a cure if they are caught soon enough. You can get preventative medication but it is only available through a veterinarian. You can also use Revolution which can prevent fleas, ticks, and mites from infesting your dog. If your pet is infected, strong drugs can kill the parasitic worms.
Most veterinarians recommend you use a year-round heartworm prevention program to guard against mosquitoes. If your dog has already had his yearly check-up, call your veterinarian to schedule a heartworm check. If he’s due for yearly vaccination, be sure to include a heartworm check in the visit.
Call us today at 604-734-2500 or email us HERE to book your free heartworm test today!