April is Heartworm Diesease Awareness Month. Butler Veterinary Clinic has celebrated this month with our Annual Heartworm Test Specials. Due to an increase in awareness and prevention, between 2010 and 2014, we did not seen any cases of heartworm disease in Cherry County Nebraska. Last year, 2015, Dr. Wood diagnosed and treated one confirmed case of Heartworm Disease. Luckily, treatment was successful, but he continues to be tested to ensure that all stages of the worms were killed and to monitor the damage to his organs from the parasites.
ProHeart6 - 1 injection that gives 6 months of protection
Sentinel Spectrum - oral, monthly flavored chew (round worm, hookworm, tapeworm, whipworm dewormer and flea "birth control" )
Heartgard - oral, monthly flavored chew (round worm & hookworm dewormer)
Ask Dr. Wood which preventative is right for you!
ProHeart6 is a convenient preventative that allows 6 months of protection in ONE treatment - especially great if you cannot administer the monthly chews (or have a hard time remembering!). The monthly oral chews are great, as they also include a monthly general deworming with each administration (especially important for outside dogs and for families with children!).
What Is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm Disease (commonly shortened to Heartworms) is a very serious and potentially fatal disease that affects dogs and cats. This disease is a result of the heartworm - a parasite that literally lives in the hearts of dogs (also can be found in lungs and blood vessels). These worms can grow to be over a foot long and cause severe damage to the lungs, heart, and other organs. Dogs are the natural host of this parasite but can also live in cats, coyotes, wolves, foxes and even humans (very rare).
Being the natural host for heartworms, the heartworm can mature into adults and reproduce inside the dog. Without aggressive treatment, the numbers of the parasite increase. Even after aggressive treatment rids the body of the parasites, the damage to the lungs, heart, and arteries are long lasting and will affect the health and quality of life of the host animal. Treatment of heartworm disease is very expensive, costing THOUSANDS of dollars, while prevention costs less than $0.25 per day.
How can my dog or cat get Heartworm Disease?
Mosquitoes! When the adult heartworm produces microscopic baby worms (microfilaria), they circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites, it can pick up these baby worms. The baby worms then mature into a larvae and is transmitted to another animal when the mosquito next feeds! Once inside, the larvae takes approximately 6 months to mature into a reproducing adult. A single heartworm can live for 5-7 years in a dog! Even indoor only pets are at risk as mosquitoes come inside!
In the early stages of heartworm disease, there is often no or very few symptoms. The longer an infection is present, the more likely symptoms will develop! Dogs that are very active (border collie, "coyote" greyhounds etc), heavily infected dogs, and animals suffering from other underlying disease will often show pronounced clinical signs.
In severe infestations, due to the large number of parasites in the heart, a cardiovascular collapse can occur. This collapse is caused by a sudden blockage of the blood flow inside the heart! Symptoms of a cardiovascular collapse include sudden labored breathing, dark bloody/coffee-colored urine, and pale gums. Without prompt surgical removal of the blockage - very few dogs survive.