How to Protect Your Pet From Heartworms

What is Heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease is a potentially life-threatening disease that commonly affects pets. It is caused by worms that live in lungs, hearts, and blood vessels. This can lead to severe damage to major organs in the body, and potentially cause lung disease or heart failure. The worm, called Dirofilaria immitis, can be as big as a foot long and can most commonly be found in dogs, though it is possible to appear in several animals. They can even appear in humans, though it is rare.
What causes it?
Heartworm is caused by a mosquito bite. Worms will reproduce in the bloodstream of its host animal, and then be spread through the bite and travel of the mosquito. Heartworms can take months to develop and last for several years, so vigilance is key to keep your pet safe and happy.
How do you treat it?
There are a few ways to treat your pet if they become infected with heartworms. If your pet has been determined positive for heartworms, you will have to restrict their physical activity. Exercise can increase the rate of which damage occurs to your pet’s vital organs. This may be difficult for your pet to adhere to, but encourage more relaxing activities. There are several drug options available that your veterinarian can recommend. Medication will be determined based on the severity of your pet’s symptoms.
How do you prevent it?
Heartworms won’t be detectable until about 5 months after being infected, so be sure to get regular check-ups for your pets. Treatments for heartworms can be expensive, so prevention is key. There are a few medications you can request for your pet that can help prevent heartworms from hosting on your pet. There are some vaccines and oral tablets that prevent the spread of heartworms, so be sure to contact your Boxborough veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment for your pet. If you want to know more information about how to protect your pet from heartworms, call our office at 978-263-3412 to request further information.