Heartworm: A Serious Threat to Louisville Pets – Keep you dog on preventative year-round.
Heartworm is a serious, often fatal parasitic condition that affects both dogs and cats. This mosquito-borne parasite can severely impair your pet’s heart and lung function, even though it may not present outward symptoms for years. By the time you know your pet has heartworm, treatment may be difficult or impossible. That’s why heartworm prevention is so important for your Louisville, Kentucky pet.
Heartworm is particularly prevalent in the Eastern United States, putting your Louisville, Kentucky pet at a higher risk than animals in some other parts of the nation. Heartworms begin their lives as microfilariae inside an already-infected mammal. Mosquitos that extract blood from the animal ingest the microfilariae, which then develop into larvae inside the insect’s body. The next time the mosquito bites another mammal, the larvae are injected into the bloodstream. Here they mature into long, thin worms that seek out the heart and lungs of the animal as their new home. Eventually, the worms overrun these organs so completely that normal cardiopulmonary function becomes impossible, killing the host animal.
Since heartworm infestation can progress extremely slowly, you may not even know that your pet is ill. Symptoms, when they finally arrive, may include lack of energy, intolerance for exercise, weight loss and coughing. By this point, unfortunately, the heartworm infestation may be too advanced for our veterinarian to help your Louisville, Kentucky pet. Earlier stages of canine heartworm infestation can be treated, but the process may involve considerable effort and expense. Cats are less lucky. While felines are able to expel heartworms on their own, their bodies can go into shock in reaction to the worms exiting the body — a potentially fatal outcome.
If your dog already has heartworm, our veterinarians will need to administer treatment as soon as possible. Medications known as adulticides focus on killing the adult heartworms over a period of months. Once your pet has recovered, we can put him on preventative medication. Contact Audubon Animal Medical Center in Louisville to learn more.
Our Veterinarian Can Help You Protect Your Pet
To minimize the risk of heartworm infestation, your dog should be on heartworm preventative year-round. Options for prevention include topical and oral medications. Give us a call for details.