Heartworm is a parasite Dirofilaria immitis. It is so-called because the parasite stays in the heart and large blood vessels, especially the pulmonary artery. Up to 300 worms can be present inside the heart and blood vessels, and these can cause blockage, easy fatigability, weakness and in worst conditions, death.
The carrier of heartworm disease is a mosquito that bites your pet. It can take only one bite of an infected mosquito for your pet to suffer from heartworms.
What is a Heartworm Preventative?
A heartworm preventative is a treatment that is practiced monthly to reduce the incidence of heartworms in dogs. This is a regular treatment that pet owners must commit to so they can protect their pets from this fatal disease.
Heartworm preventative includes regular annual screening to ensure that the preventive treatment is working and that your pet is heartworm-free.
If the screening yields a positive result for heartworm, conventional treatment is done, including regular medications, injections, blood works, and imaging of the heart to check for the progress of the disease.
Why is this treatment important?
If heartworm disease is overlooked, the worms can grow in number inside the heart and blood vessels, and these can occlude the inner lining of the blood vessels. Signs of heartworm disease include weakness, persistent coughing, sudden weight loss, problems with breathing, and restlessness. If you spot any of these symptoms in your pet, take it to the vet at once.
Important things about Heartworm Preventative treatments
There are several heartworm preventative treatments for dogs, and around 95% of cases are treated successfully. However, there are some risks of heartworm treatments, and this depends on the health of the dog during the time heartworm is diagnosed.
In pets with severe cases of heartworms, treatments can be very harsh on the respiratory system, and thus, the veterinarian will identify the correct treatment plan.
Meanwhile, in mild cases of heartworm disease, heartworm treatments can guarantee full recovery. Dogs with mild cases of the disease are often identified through regular screening and get treatment as soon as possible.
There is no safe and effective treatment for heartworm disease in cats.
Monthly heartworm prevention
If the tests given by the vet yields negative results, the vet will likely recommend that your pet take a monthly heartworm preventative. This is giving heartworm medication every month to reduce your pet’s risk of contracting heartworm disease.
Heartworms can affect pet dogs and cats throughout the year, and this is even during wintertime. Monthly prevention can significantly reduce the risk of infection for pet dogs. And in most heartworm preventative medications, the formulas are also able to prevent other parasites, including hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms.
Just among the most common medications that are a part of the heartworm preventative treatment plan include Heartgard Plus Chewables, Revolution, Trifexis, Sentinel, and Advantage Multi. Follow your vet’s instructions very well, and never miss a dose. If you miss any dose, give the dose at once and continue to give it month after month.