A heartworm is a foot-long worm that lives in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. The disease they cause is dangerous and potentially fatal in pets. Heartworms cause heart failure, lung disease, and organ damage that affect pets’ quality of life. Mosquitos are the carriers of heartworms and cats, dogs, and ferrets are at risk. But, other mammals carry heartworms, such as wolves, foxes, and coyotes. If you live in the Appleton area and you’re concerned that your pet may have heartworms, schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians at North Heights Veterinary Clinic.
Pet Risk Level
Even if a geographical location has a low occurrence of heartworms, pets are still at risk. Traveling between regions creates even more danger. Heartworms spread into new parts of the country every year. Stray and untreated dogs are the ideal carriers as well as wildlife.
The wind relocates mosquitos and makes it impossible to narrow down where heartworm disease is a risk. Prevention medication and regular testing of all pets, even those who are primarily indoors, is the best plan of action to avoid the life-threatening illness.
Red Flags of Heartworm Disease
Our veterinary clinic recommends testing pets every 12 months for heartworms. Besides testing, you should administer heartworm prevention medication for your pet every month. Many pets show minor symptoms or none at all during the early stages of heartworm disease. For the best result, start a dog on heartworm treatment as soon as possible.
However, if any of these red flags pop up, contact us today:
- Unusual fatigue after moderate activity
- Reluctance or avoiding exercise
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Any persistent cough
- Constantly bloated abdomen
- Paling gums
- Discolored urine
When to Test Your Pet
Heartworms affect dogs and cats in different ways. The timing and testing procedures for these animals also differ.
All canines need to be tested every year for heartworm infection. It is part of their routine annual visits. Pups under seven months old start taking heartworm prevention without a test. At a year old, we give the first test and every year after that. Adult dogs over seven months old with no prior preventive medicine need a test to begin the prevention process.
Cats are harder to diagnose than dogs because it is more difficult to detect. Our veterinary clinic screens the cats' blood for both antigen and antibody tests when searching for heartworm disease. X-rays and ultrasounds are a part of ensuring the cat does not have heartworm infection. The examinations happen before prevention. No heartworm treatment exists for felines, so prevention is critical for their health.
North Heights Veterinary Clinic in Appleton, WI
North Heights Veterinary Clinic is a full-service veterinary clinic that offers compassionate care for all pets. Serving the Appleton, WI area, we want the best for you and your furry friend. We will test for heartworms and, if found, treat them professionally. Call us with any questions concerning heartworm prevention today.