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If your pet is exhibiting concerning symptoms or experiencing a medical emergency, please call our clinic at (407) 352-2579. We’ll help you through it.

Be proactive in your protection

Protect Your Pet

Florida’s climate is the perfect temperature for a lot of disease and parasite-carrying mosquitos. This means that your pet should be protected at all times from the possibility of contracting heartworms. It’s much easier to prevent than it is to get rid of, so take action now rather than deal with the issue after the fact.


Dog Being Pet
Dog Being Pet

Be informed about the risks

What to Know About Heartworms

Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and pose a serious health risk to pets. 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.

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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.

Do heartworms affect cats?

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.

Kitten on bed

“Dr Phillips Animal Hospital is amazing!! Bar none! It’s so clean! It doesn’t even smell like a clinic! The staff is amazing. So helpful and sweet. Dr. Qasim is the best. I’ve been to many vets in my lifetime and always my biggest complaint has been getting the vet to “talk” to me. Tell me the “whys” and “what fors” and what they are doing. He didn’t even hesitate when I brought in my boyfriend’s older min pin, Pickles. The doctor was so thorough and forthcoming with information.”

Michelle Armstrong

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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.

“I took my JoJo to DPAH. It was an amazing experience for me and my dog. I was really impressed by Dr. Qasim’s knowledge, serene and gentle personality. From the moments I met this gentleman, I knew that he was right Vet for my JoJo. Moreover, friendly staff, clean and bright facility with state-of-the-art machines were the best bang for my buck. I think I am his client for life now … HTH!”

Heartworm Prevention for Dogs

How can I have my dog tested for heartworms?

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 that. They will then begin yearly testing.

Dogs older than 8 months or those that have not previously received medication will need to be tested before receiving medication. After this, they will need to be tested 6 months following and yearly after.

Heartworm Prevention for Cats

Do I really need to give my cat heartworm prevention?

Heartworm prevention for cats is critical considering there is no approved effective treatment. Today’s heartworm medication is highly effective. However, 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.

How can I have my cat tested for heartworms?

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.

Heartworm Medication Options & Specifics

Are there 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
  • Itching
  • Facial swelling
  • Hives
  • Death

This 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 reactions to heartworm medication, please contact us immediately.

What happens if you forget a dose or delay a dose of heartworm medication?

Your pet will be unprotected and at risk of infection.

To keep your pet safe, please ensure you do not miss giving one of your pet’s monthly heartworm medication. Also avoid giving it to them late. This will leave them unprotected and at risk of infection. Read more about safety tips for using heartworm medication.

Pricing for Heartworm Medication

What is the average cost of heartworm medication?

Certain brands of heartworm medication are more expensive than others. This is usually due to the length of period it protects your pet for and the breadth of pests it protects your pet from.

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.

Pets With Heartworms

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.

What happens if heartworms are left untreated?

Dogs with large quantities of heartworms can develop 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


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What are the 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 is heart failure. Cats with heartworm disease have been connected to asthma due to adult worms infrequently being able to infest a cat’s heart with their departures from a cat’s body releasing allergens that can cause them to have asthma-like symptoms.

If your dog or cat starts to have any of these symptoms, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

Protect Pets Visiting or Moving to Orlando

What can I do to protect my pet when 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.

How to Get Started

Step One:
Call us to book your pet’s appointment.

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Step Two:
Our expert vet will take care of all of your pet’s needs.

Step Three:
Get back to enjoying your happy and healthy life with your furry best friend.

Dr. Bilal Qasim and vet techs working on a dog patient

Get the Best Care for Your Pet

Come Visit Dr. Qasim

Book your pet’s appointment with Dr. Qasim to ensure a long, happy life together.

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We love and care for each patient as if they were our own pet.

Meet Our Team of Animal Lovers

Dr. Bilal Qasim, DVM, established Dr. Phillips Animal Hospital in 2011 after practicing veterinary medicine for over 17 years with the help of talented and caring veterinary technicians.

Blue paw icon

We love and care for each patient as if they were our own pet.

Meet Our Team of Animal Lovers

Dr. Bilal Qasim, DVM, established Dr. Phillips Animal Hospital in 2011 after practicing veterinary medicine for over 17 years with the help of talented and caring veterinary technicians.