Heartworm Testing, Prevention, and Treatment at St. Louis Veterinary Center in St. Louis, MO

People often use the word "heart" to describe love, strength, and courage - qualities many of us can readily see in our beloved pets. But animals' hearts also pump the blood that makes their lives possible, and this vital organ can be threatened by a parasitic infestation known as heartworm. Here at St. Louis Veterinary Center in St. Louis, MO, we can provide the necessary checks, prevention, and treatment to spare your pet from the ravages of this disease.

dog and cat

Why Heartworm Is So Dangerous for Your Dog or Cat

An adult heartworm resembles a long, thin strand of spaghetti. But it first enters your pet's body in its premature form, through the bite of an infested mosquito. It doesn't grow to adulthood until has found its way to the heart and lungs. Adult heartworms slowly grow to the point that they interfere with normal cardiopulmonary function. Dogs may play host to enormous masses of worms, developing breathing problems, fatigue, loss of appetite and other degenerative problems until they finally die. Cats usually host only a few heartworms at a time -- but they also experience intense, sometimes fatal inflammatory reactions when the worms expire.

Our Veterinarian Can Protect Your Pet Against Heartworm

Our veterinarian at St. Louis Veterinary Center, Dr. Wagenknecht, can help your dog or cat steer clear of heartworm's deadly effects. Blood tests can confirm the presence of mature or premature heartworms; these tests are commonly administered after the age of 6 months when heartworms first become detectable. Beginning at 6 to 8 weeks of age, baby animals can start to receive heartworm preventatives. These medications, which need to be given on a strict monthly schedule to remain effective, may be topical or oral products. As a valuable fringe benefit, many heartworm drugs also protect against other common parasitic worms.

While prevention is far and away the easiest and wisest way to protect your pet from heartworm, our veterinarian also offers heartworm treatment. Dogs must usually undergo an extensive process of drug therapy to kill any premature heartworms as well as the adult heartworms. Sadly, cats cannot receive this form of treatment safely due to the risk of inflammatory reactions. While a cat may outlive a small number of heartworms, the only treatment method available for severe infestations is surgery to extract the worms.

Don't Leave Your Pet at Risk - Contact Our St. Louis Veterinary Center in St. Louis, MO Today!

You owe it to your pet to give him the strongest, most thorough heartworm protection possible. Call our vet clinic at 314-773-6400 today to schedule a heartworm check and/or a course of preventative medication!