Some of the biggest threats to your pet’s health are invisible to the eye — at least on the outside. Heartworm disease is a common, potentially deadly example. These elongated worms can invade your pet’s cardiopulmonary system, causing everything from gradual heart and lung failure to sudden death. The good news is that many cases of heartworm can be treated, while even more can be prevented through some simple measures. Here at Tassajara Veterinary Clinic, we offer heartworm diagnosis and treatment as well as heartworm prevention for dogs.

The Dangers of Heartworm Disease

A heartworm takes many months reach maturity. The larvae find their way into your pet’s bloodstream through a mosquito bite. They then move to the heart and lungs, where they grow into lengthy, spaghetti-shaped worms. Dogs may develop massive heartworm infections that interfere with heart and lung function. Symptoms include fatigue, lethargy, breathing problems, lack of appetite, and coughing. It may take several years for these problems to result in death. Cats rarely host more than a few heartworms at a time, but this doesn’t make them “luckier.” In fact, heartworm infections can even cause sudden death in cats that otherwise appeared healthy. That’s because a heartworm’s death triggers a severe inflammatory reaction which is often too much for the cat to withstand. Heartworm in dogs can be treated, but the process may take several weeks and involve repeated doses of antibiotics, steroids, and arsenic-based deworming medications. If the treatment isn’t entirely successful, it must be repeated. Heartworm in cats can’t be treated with medication at all, due to the dangers posed by killing the worms inside the cat’s body. The only option is surgery, which is reserved for the most life-threatening cases.

Heartworm Prevention for Dogs and Cats

It’s absolutely imperative that you get your dog or cat checked for heartworm on a regular basis if it travels to areas where the disease is endemic. This is commonly done during a comprehensive wellness exam by our team of veterinarians at Tassajara Veterinary Clinic. If your pet has heartworm, we will advise you on the appropriate means of treating the problem. Heartworm prevention for dogs and cats is a much easier way to keep your pet heartworm-free for life. There are a variety of medications aimed at preventing heartworm. These drugs kill the worms in their immature stages before they can develop into a serious threat. Heartworm prevention for dogs include oral or topical medications such as HeartGuard Plus, Advantage Multi, Interceptor, and Revolution. It is important to be diligent about administering monthly heartworm prevention for cats or dogs on a consistent schedule.

The Place to Go for Heartworm Prevention for Dogs and Cats

Tassajara Veterinary Clinic is Danville’s resource for heartworm prevention for dogs or cats. Call (925) 736-8387 to schedule this all-important form of care at our veterinary clinic!