Heartworm Prevention at Bluegrass Animal Hospital
Few things cause more sadness and alarm in pet owners than the sight of a beloved animal struggling with a serious, chronic ailment. A heartworm infestation can shorten your pet's life while making those remaining years extremely unpleasant. That's why you need to take steps to protect your pet against this parasite by seeking heartworm preventative care at Bluegrass Animal Hospital in Knoxville, TN.
Understanding Heartworm Infestations
Heartworms enter your pet's body, not as full-grown worms, but as microscopic baby worms called microfilariae. Mosquitos infested with these microfilariae inject them into animals via their bites. The microfilariae take up residence in the lungs and heart, growing into long, noodle-like worms that interfere with cardiopulmonary function while producing new generations of worms.
Heartworm infestations affect dogs and cats somewhat differently. The worms grow in great numbers in dogs, producing lethargy, breathing problems, fatigue, coughing, weight loss, and loss of appetite. Many infested dogs will die from their heartworm problem. Heartworms don't thrive as easily in cats, but even just a few worms can create health problems such as respiratory issues, weight loss, and vomiting. When the worms die, they can produce a toxic inflammatory response that may lead to sudden death.
Heartworm Treatment versus Prevention
Treatment for heartworm infestation in dogs usually involves a prolonged, difficult medication regimen. Sadly, veterinary medicine can't offer a medication-based heartworm treatment in cats, since the killed heartworms can trigger a toxic response. For these reasons, prevention makes much more sense as a strategy for protecting your pet against this potentially deadly parasite.
Both dogs and cats can receive ongoing preventative medications that destroy heartworm microfilariae before they can do any harm. Most of the medications come in the form of monthly oral tablets. Although, you can also schedule periodic injections by our veterinarian. Some heartworm medications offer the additional benefit of protecting pets against other internal parasitic worms or even mites, fleas, and ticks.
Once you start your pet on preventative heartworm medication, you must continue to administer the medication like clockwork. Any gaps in the protection could give heartworms just the opportunity they need to wreak havoc in your pet's body. While you can give your pet oral heartworm medications at home, a veterinarian must administer injectable heartworm preventatives, so you must remember to mark and keep those appointment dates.
Protect Your Knoxville, TN, Pet against Heartworm
Don't wait until a heartworm infestation threatens your pet's life and happiness. Contact Bluegrass Animal Hospital today to request an appointment with our Knoxville, TN, veterinarian and get your best friend started on a course of preventative medication.