Heartworms are a type of worm that can grow up to a foot in length and set up shop in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. They can cause extensive, irreversible damage to your pet’s cardiovascular system that frequently leads to heart failure and death. This parasite can infect dogs, cats, ferrets, and even humans.
Animals are infected with heartworms via a mosquito bite. The rule of thumb is: any animal can be bitten by a mosquito, even indoor-only ones. Many of us are indoor-only humans too but look how often we are bitten by mosquitoes! As you can see by the map below, Oklahoma is one of the most commonly affected areas of the country for heartworms. So it is even more important to protect our pets!
How do I prevent my pet from getting heartworms?
The only effective method of preventing your pet from becoming infected with heartworm is using heartworm preventatives. Veterinary medicine has advanced and produced a wide variety of products for this purpose. Topicals, chewable treats, and even injections can be used to prevent heartworm infection. Unfortunately, bug sprays and mosquito nets are not enough. Preventatives are the only research-tested, doctor-approved method of preventing heartworm disease.
Can heartworms be treated?
Great news: heartworm infections can be treated! However, it takes months of treatment, confinement, and is very expensive. What’s even better than treatment? Prevention! Heartworm prevention is significantly more cost effective and pet friendly than heartworm treatment. Our favorite prevention is called Simparica Trio! It prevents fleas, ticks, heartworms AND intestinal parasites! AND it is cheaper that the separate options!
Although, if your pet is diagnosed with heartworms, we treat it. It involves daily and monthly doses of medication and strict rest. Long term, we manage the damage done to the heart with medication and lifestyle changes. Heartworms can be scary, but it is treatable and we can manage it.