It’s almost Valentine’s Day! We love to treat our four-legged furry Valentines on February 14 (and, let’s be honest, every other day too), but we also wanted to take a moment to talk about something serious that relates to your pet’s heart: Heartworms.
At True Blue Animal Rescue every single dog we take in is tested for heartworms and is started on preventative or heartworm treatment (depending on if they tested negative or positive for the disease). When we adopt a dog out we are sure to explain to their new family the importance of keeping them on their preventative or treatment, because heartworms are the silent killer of pets across the country and if the dosage is stopped the dog will suffer.
Heartworms are spread by mosquito bites and affect your pet by infesting their heart and enlarging it. In Texas your dog has a 100% chance of contracting heartworms if they are not on preventative medicine. That means ALL dogs should be given a monthly does of Heartguard (or other prescribed medicines, whether in pill, topical, or injection form) to ward off this terrible condition. If not, it is likely that your dog will contract the disease which results in a slow and painful death unless they are diagnosed and then put on a heartworm treatment regimen.
If your dog is not already on a preventative, we recommend you take them in to your local vet. Heartworm testing can be expensive, but it is worth it to ensure your pet has the proper care.
What are warning signs that your dog might be infected?
- A persistent dry cough
- Inactivity or lethargy, excessive sleeping, fatigue after simple actions such as eating or going out to go to the bathroom
- Weight Loss, refusal to eat, loss of appetite
- Labored breathing
- Bulging abdomen or chest area
We know you love your pets, and we want you to have many more Valentine’s Days with them, so make sure you are informed and take them in to your veterinarian to get the best treatment for their heart!
Cats are not the typical host for heartworms, as the parasite does not often make it to adulthood in their bodies. In the case that your cat is infected with adult heartworms, it can be fatal and often goes undiagnosed until it is too late. If you have concerns, talk to your veterinarian.
To read more about heartworm disease, visit The American Heartworm Society