August 20th is World Mosquito Day. We know, mosquitos aren’t something we want to celebrate. However, these annoying bloodsucking parasites pose a greater threat to pets than many people realize. Mosquitos are the sole transmitters of heartworms, parasites that are deadly to both dogs and cats. A New Orleans, LA vet offers some information on heartworms below.
Unlike ringworm, which is actually a fungus, heartworms are aptly named. The worms infest the hearts, lungs, and arteries of canids, such as dogs, foxes, and coyotes. This, as one can imagine, causes some very serious medical problems. Left untreated, infestations are unfortunately often fatal.
It’s important to know the signs of infestations. Coughing and fatigue are the two biggest red flags. You may also notice Fido tiring easily, and just not wanting to run or play very much. Serious infestations can also cause fainting, coma, and, unfortunately, death. Contact your vet right away if you notice
As mentioned above, heartworms are only spread one way: via mosquitoes. This is very concerning, because Fido doesn’t even have to come into contact with other dogs to get infested. Although the worms are microscopic when first transmitted, they grow quickly, reaching adult size in about six months. Your pooch is at risk anywhere mosquitos can reach him!
This is one area where an ounce of prevention is worth several tons of cure. While heartworm infestations can be treated, the treatment is both more expensive and more taxing for your canine pal than keeping up with his preventative care. In some cases, surgery may be required. Dogs undergoing treatment also need to be restricted from vigorous play or exercise. Some may need to be kenneled. This isn’t much fun for poor Fido!
Cats can also be infested by heartworms. However, heartworm infestations don’t play out the same way in cats as they do in dogs. Kitties’ bodies just aren’t as hospitable for the worms as dogs’ are. The good news is that worms don’t reproduce well in cats, so it’s unusual to find more than a few adults in a cat. The bad news? It only takes one or two to cause severe, and potentially life-threatening, organ damage. Keep Fluffy protected as well!
Do you need to have your pet tested for heartworm? Please contact us, your New Orleans, LA pet hospital, for all of their veterinary care needs.