We all know how ideal Florida’s year-round tropical climate is for living. But sadly, so do disease and parasite-carrying mosquitos that puts your pet’s health at risk.
At Dr. Phillips Animal Hospital, we know how important your pet’s health is to you. When it comes to heartworms, the best choice is to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to keeping them safe. At Dr. Phillips Animal Hospital, we offer heartworm medication, testing, and treatment services to help keep your heart safe by looking after your pet’s. Don’t wait to find heartworms until it’s too late. Let us help in making sure you enjoy a long and healthy life with your pet, by providing the love and care your pet needs, and you deserve.
What to Know About Heartworms
Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and pose a serious health risk to pets across the world, especially in the Southeast USA such as Florida. The parasite Dirofilaria immitis, also known as ‘heartworms’, primarily infects dogs but can also affect cats. Heartworms are life-threatening parasites that, when transmitted to dogs, grow and multiply in their lungs, heart, and connected blood vessels. When unchecked, heartworms cause damage to organs, severe lung disease, heart failure, and can be fatal.
Given heartworm disease is a serious and progressive disease, the earlier it is detected, the greater chance your pet has of recovering and preventing irreparable damage from occurring.
Heartworms & Cats
Harder to test and treat, a majority of times heartworms in cats go undiagnosed. Unable to survive to become adults in cats or enter a cat’s heart or other organs as they can in dogs, heartworms pose less of a risk to cats than dogs but are still dangerous. Immature heartworms can cause damage and be fatal to cats through a condition known as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD). It is a difficult-to-detect and, in some cases, a fatal condition.
At Dr. Phillips Animal Hospital, we provide preventative treatment for heartworms with top-of-the-line medication.
Heartworm prevention for cats is critical considering there is no approved effective treatment. Today’s heartworm medication is highly effective, but, as part of your pet’s treatment while on medication, yearly heartworm testing is recommended to ensure it is working effectively and your pet is safe.
What To Do If Your Pet Has Heartworms?
If your pet is diagnosed with heartworms, Dr. Qasim is here to help from diagnosis all the way past recovery. Our vet and team are here to help with treatments, medications, surgery, and a proven recovery regime that will allow your pet to heal while stopping heartworms dead in their tracks. Our vet will help decide which is the best option for your pet. Learn more about heartworm treatments or what you need to know.
Heartworms can be prevented and treated by using monthly heartworm medication. At Dr. Phillips Animal Hospital, we carry a large range of heartworm medication and our vet knows which dog and cat breeds have adverse reactions to particular heartworm medication, so we always prescribe the safest one for your pet. Our vet is happy to answer any questions you may have about heartworm medication, a particular one you have in mind, or one that we prescribe your pet.
The Dangers of Missing Or Delaying a Dose of Heartworm Medication
To keep your pet safe, please ensure you do not miss giving one of your pet’s monthly heartworm medication or give it to them late. This will leave them unprotected and at risk of infection. Read more about safety times for using heartworm medication.
Pricing for Heartworm Medication
Certain brands of heartworm medication are more expensive than others, and we understand that you might be on a budget but still want to ensure your pet is safe. Our vet and team will discuss your options and pricing to find the right medication and treatment that works for your specific situation.
What are Side Effects from Heartworm Medication?
Our veterinarian has over 24 years of experience and knows which dog and cat breeds can have adverse reactions to particular heartworm medication as well as which breeds of cats and dogs are most susceptible to heartworm disease.
The majority of dogs do not experience side effects from heartworm medication, but some breeds do. Side effects may include diarrhea, vomiting, incoordination, itching, facial swelling, hives, or can be fatal, which is why it’s crucial to pick a vet that knows which medication is right for your pet. If your pet is experiencing any of these, please contact us immediately.
Testing for Heartworms
Pets should be tested annually for heartworm infection, usually as part of their routine check-up. Testing for dogs entails a small blood sample that is processed in our hospital with results obtained swiftly. Annual testing for heartworms is necessary because it takes approximately 7 months until an infection can be diagnosed. Pets taking monthly heartworm medication will still need to be tested to help ensure their medication is working effectively and detect any worms quickly.
Puppies under the age of 8 months do not need to be tested before starting heartworm medication but need to be tested 6 months after their initial visit and another 6 months after. They will then begin yearly testing. Dogs older than 8 months or have previously not received medication will need to be tested before receiving medication. After this, they will need to be tested 6 months following and yearly after.
Cats should also be tested before receiving heartworm medication at all ages. Heartworms are harder to detect in cats than dogs given heartworms in cats do not grow into adults. Preferred methods to screen cats includes an antibody test that detects exposure of heartworm larvae, antigen test, and, in some cases, ultrasound or x-ray may be required. Our vet will discuss follow-up testing requirements specifically for your pet as every breed and pet is different.
What Are Symptoms of Heartworms?
In the early stages of the illness, many pets show few or no symptoms of heartworms. Once your pet starts showing symptoms, their heartworm condition is most likely advanced and requires immediate attention.
Symptoms of heartworms in your cat or dog includes:
- Exhaustion after reasonable action
- Decreased appetite
- A mild persistent cough
- Weight loss
Symptoms for cats can be subtle or dramatic and include:
- Asthma-like attacks
- Periodic vomiting
- Difficulty walking
- Experience fainting or seizures
When heartworm disease advances, pets may have the appearance of a swollen belly due to excessive fluid in the abdomen. The end result of this condition being heart failure. Cats with heartworm disease have been connected to asthma due to adult worms infrequently being able to infest a cat’s heart – their departures from a cat’s body release allergens that can cause them to have asthma-like symptoms.
If your dog or cat start has any of these symptoms, please contact us to schedule an appointment.
What Happens if Heartworms are Unchecked
Dogs with large quantities of heartworms can create surprising blockages of blood flow inside the heart, resulting in a life-threatening form of cardiovascular failure. Some dogs can have up to 300 adult worms in their bodies at once, causing irreversible damage to their heart, lungs, and other vital organs. Even after a pet is treated for heartworms, your dog’s health and quality of life may never be the same even with the parasites removed. That is why It’s crucial to keep up with testing and heartworm treatment. Dr. Qasim is here to help.
Protect Pets Visiting or Moving to Orlando
If you are relocating to Florida or visiting with your pet, make sure they are receiving their monthly heartworm medication. Florida is a breeding ground for mosquitoes that thrive from our year-round tropical climate and are known to transfer the parasite along with other diseases.
Make sure your pet is protected and safe in Florida as even one small mosquito bite can pass on heartworms. If you were in a rush to arrive or simply forgot, call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Qasim so we can help keep your pet safe in our beautiful state.
Why Choose Our Hospital
Safeguarding your pet’s safety and wellness against heartworms starts with prevention. Our veterinarian has over 24 years of experience and knows which dog and cat breeds will have adverse reactions to particular heartworm medication, as well as which breeds of cats and dogs are most susceptible to heartworm disease.
By choosing Dr. Phillips Animal Hospital, we will help you make the right decision to keep your pet safe by taking a proactive approach over a reactive one, resulting in their safety to help you both enjoy a long and healthy life together. Call us to book your appointment, test, or discuss heartworm medication with one of our friendly staff today at (407) 352-2579.