Lindale Pet Hospital blog
Heartworm is a common parasite in dogs, cats, ferrets, and several mammal species. During National Heartworm Prevention Month, we urge you to learn more about the transmission, symptoms, and treatment of this parasite. Left untreated, heartworm disease can cause serious illness or the death of your beloved pet.
What is a Heartworm and How Does It Get Inside Your Pet?
A heartworm is approximately 12 inches long and lives inside the blood vessels, heart, and lungs of animals who are infected with it. The most typical course of transmission is through a mosquito. When a female heartworm is present inside of a dog or cat, she can reproduce thousands of microscopic worms that travel to the bloodstream. A mosquito ingests some of these baby worms when it stings an infected pet and feeds on his blood. Heartworm transmission occurs the next time the mosquito bites a pet.
Symptoms of Heartworm in Dogs and Cats
Heartworms can live up to seven years in dogs and up to three years in cats. However, the two types of animals exhibit entirely different symptoms when infected. The first signs in dogs include early fatigue, appetite loss, persistent cough, and weight loss. Dogs with advanced heartworm disease will have a swollen belly, bloody urine, and labored breathing.
Cats tend to display either subtle or dramatic symptoms with no middle ground. Common symptoms include vomiting, appetite and weight loss, and coughing that develops into asthma. As the disease progresses, an infected cat may experience problems walking as well as fainting and seizures. Some cats show no symptoms of heartworm infestation until they collapse and die.
Diagnosing and Treating Heartworm Disease
If you’re the pet parent of a puppy or kitten, schedule an appointment with Dr. Koten at Lindale Pet Hospital when she is six months old. Dogs should be tested annually thereafter and started on a heartworm preventive as soon as possible. You can greatly reduce your cat’s risk of getting heartworm by keeping her indoors.
We encourage you to speak to Dr. Koten to establish a heartworm protocol for your pet as soon as possible. For your convenience, our clinic offers several different types of heartworm prevention products in our online store.
Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? Although originally started to promote the importance of human nutrition, the veterinary industry has adapted this awareness campaign to its own needs. As a pet owner, providing the best nutrition for your dog, cat, or other type of animal is the single most important thing you do. That is because the food you select has a major impact on your pet’s long-term health.
Pet owners sometime make food buying decisions based on convenience or price without considering what is best for the individual animal. For example, many dog and cats have skin or coat issues, a sensitive stomach, or problems with their joints. This requires selecting a species-specific food that addresses these unique concerns. Pets also have different nutritional requirements based on their stage of life.
Although the Food and Drug Administration has specific regulations about what must be included on a pet food label, it can still be challenging to interpret. Most pet foods contain some combination of carbohydrates, fats, minerals, preservatives, and vitamins. However, it can be difficult to know the actual percentage of each of these that the pet food contains or to know how much your pet specifically needs.
In honor of National Pet Nutrition Month, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at Lindale Pet Hospital to discuss your pet’s nutritional needs with Dr. Koten. You’re also welcome to ask for a nutritional assessment at the next wellness exam. We will let you know if your pet appears to have specific dietary restrictions and whether he or she is at a healthy weight. A nutritious diet and regular exercise help to prevent serious health conditions as well as provide your pet with the highest possible quality of life.