Heartworm Disease

Atlas Animal Hospital OftGs Heartworm Prevention & Treatment

Heartworm disease is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito- These parasites can lead to increasing debilitation and death, if not properly treated Preventative measures are available to protect your pets from this disease- At Atlas Animal Hospital a Emergency in Vancouver, BC, we offer both preventative medications and treatment of heartworm disease.

Heartworms & Your Pet

Heartworms begin their lifecycle as microscopic larvae that are transmitted to hosts through the bite of a mosquito. The worms travel through the bloodstream and lodge in the heart and lungs, where they can grow up to a foot long, clogging the heart and the blood vessels in the lungs. Although there may be no sign of heartworm disease in the early stages, animals with heartworms will eventually show symptoms such as coughing, low tolerance for exercise, and generally poor condition. Both cats and dogs can acquire heartworms. Cats may experience symptoms like vomiting, fluid in the abdomen, or seizures. Without treatment, animals gradually become sicker, and the disease can even lead to death.

Testing and Treatment for Heartworms

Our veterinarian can do a blood test to detect heartworms. If the worms are found, the vet may recommend immediate treatment to prevent further debilitation. If no worms are found, the animal can be put on heartworm prevention drugs. The treatment of heartworm disease can be lengthy and expensive. It requires complete the elimination of exercise to prevent damage to the heart and lungs. Canines receive medication to kill the adolescent worms, antibiotics and cortisone to relieve symptoms and allow the body to recover. There is no standard heartworm treatment for felines, but supportive care, such as antibiotics, cortisone drugs, and oxygen therapy, can be helpful for recovery.

Heartworm Prevention as Part of Your Pet's Regular Care

Preventative heartworm medications are available in an oral form, given monthly, or an injectable form, which is given every 6 months. These drugs should be administered on a regular basis to prevent the risk for heartworm disease. Your vet will advise you on the schedule and dosage for these medications.

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