Learn effective ways to prevent heartworm infection in dogs
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Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal disease affecting pets in the United States and other parts of the world. Heartworms damage the affected pets’ hearts, lungs, and associated blood vessels. Continue reading to learn how to protect your dog from this disease.
Conduct An Annual Heartworm Test
- For every dog over the age of 6 months, an annual heartworm test is highly advisable every spring around May. This is necessary to test for any infection that may have been transmitted from the previous season.
In addition, a heartworm test also diagnoses 3 other tick-borne diseases, including:
- Lyme disease
A blood test is run on a small blood sample, and results are revealed within 10 minutes.
Significance Of A Heartworm Test
- It is necessary to receive a negative heartworm test before starting the preventative medications. This is important because mature heartworms can survive in dogs for up to 7 years. Infection with a small burden of heartworms may not result in the appearance of clinical symptoms.
However, a heartworm test will reveal the presence of microfilaria or baby heartworms in the blood. This test is crucial in saving your pet’s life before the infection becomes severe. Since heartworms have a long lifespan, each mosquito season can cause an increase in the number of heartworms in an infected pet.
- Medications are taken after receiving a negative heartworm test for pets over the age of 6 months. The guidelines for preventive medication for heartworm and intestinal parasite suggest medications be taken from June until November.
Most of the preventive products are given once a month throughout the season. The preventive medications are available in two forms, oral tablets and topical applications. If taken correctly, both methods display a high level of efficacy.
Routes Of Administration
- Dog’s lifestyle and preference determine the method that works best for your pet. For some dogs, oral medications work well as they are easier to administer. Consider topical medications if your pet does not quickly consume oral products. Some topical medications provide additional benefits by acting as insect repellents.
- Make sure the products you purchase do not contain any toxic ingredients. Many over-the-counter products contain pesticides. It is advisable to first discuss with your veterinarian which prevention plan is the safest and most effective for your pet.
- One or more blood tests will diagnose heartworm disease in infected dogs. In heartworm-positive dogs, further diagnostic tests are often required to determine if the dog can safely undergo the heartworm treatment.
Here are some of the diagnostic procedures that are performed before starting the treatment.
- Antigen test or ELISA
- Chest radiographs (X-rays)
Subjects Of The Infection
- Dogs are affected mainly by heartworms, the parasite’s final host. Cats can also be affected by heartworm infections. But cats require more significant exposure to the parasite to become infected, so they usually have a reduced risk of infection.
In addition, cats are not the ideal host of the heartworm parasite. Cats have also developed resistance to this parasite. Only a few cases of feline heartworm infections have been reported so far. Humans cannot contract heartworm infection and are therefore safe from the parasite.
To schedule your dog’s heartworm test, give us a call today. Discuss a preventative plan that best suits the needs of your pet. At Autumn Trails and Veterinary Center, we treat and prevent life-threatening diseases. We have the experience and technology to handle all types of healthcare needs of your pets. We are located in Charlottesville, VA. Appointments are conveniently available. Call us at 434-971-9800.