Heartworm Prevention and Treatment

Heartworm is a devastating disease for everyone involved. Here at St. Louis Veterinary Center, we can't emphasize enough the need to have your pet on a heartworm treatment medication. Once a pet comes in with heartworm, the treatment is not only costly and long, but many pets aren't strong enough to make it through because heartworm has done so much damage to their body.

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What is Heartworm

Heartworm is a worm that resembles cooked spaghetti. A mosquito will pick up the larvae from an infected animal. When he then bites your pet, he transfers those larvae, and they make their way to the blood vessels that go into its heart. These larvae grow into worms that are anywhere between nine and twelve inches long, depending on whether they are male or female. As they grow, they block the blood flow from your pet's heart and lungs. 

At first, there may be no symptoms noticeable. As the worms grow, your pet will become lethargic, lose its appetite and weight, and exhibit a persistent cough. As the disease worsens, your pet may have a swollen belly. Eventually, the worms will multiply to the point where your pet faces heart failure. Before his heart fails, he will have pale gums, labored breathing, and dark urine. At this point, few dogs will survive. Dogs are most susceptible to heartworm, although cats have been known to become infected. Unfortunately, cats can't be treated like dogs can.

Mosquitos are the only known transmitters of heartworm. One pet won't pass it to your other pets. Once infected, it takes about six months for the larvae to become adults. The adults, however, can live from five to seven years, multiplying many times while alive. 

Prevention is Easy

You can't keep mosquitos away from your pet completely. Rather than risk them getting heartworm, you can prevent it easily with a once-a-month preventative. In some cases, we can combine this with his regular flea and tick preventative. A preventative now will save you an expensive, time-consuming treatment in the future.

Heartworm Treatment in St. Louis

If one of our patients does come in with heartworm, the treatment is something that we will discuss with you in-depth. At St. Louis Veterinary Clinic, we want to do everything we can to help your pet regain its health. Give us a call today at 314.230.8305 to get your pet started on a monthly heartworm preventative, so we don't have to have that difficult discussion with you. Both you and your pet will be much happier.