heartworm prevention.

Annual vet visits are essential for making sure your pet is healthy through every stage of life. Part of this regular pet healthcare screening includes testing for heartworms, and maintaining preventive medications. Keep reading to learn more about this mosquito-borne disease, how it affects pets, and how you can protect your pet from heartworms.

What is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease is a mosquito-borne disease that can affect many animals. Dogs, however, serve as definitive hosts, and are therefore at the highest risk of physical damage or even death due to these parasites. Definitive hosts are hosts on which parasitic worms–like heartworms–can fully mature and produce offspring. This is why cats and other animals do not have as high of a risk of developing heartworm disease as dogs. If they do, the infection is typically less severe, and there are fewer heartworms present in their systems. 

How Does Heartworm Disease Affect Dogs?

The heartworm life cycle is dependent on the transmission of this parasitic worm from one host to another. This transmission occurs when mosquitoes bite a dog that is already infected with heartworms, then bite an uninfected dog, which spreads the infection from the first dog to the second. The mosquito-borne disease can affect a dog’s health in many ways. Unfortunately, dogs may experience no symptoms or very few symptoms during the earliest stages of this disease, making it difficult for dog owners to know that anything is wrong. If left untreated, dogs typically start experiencing symptoms such as chronic coughing, a decrease in appetite, a change in weight, and fatigue. As the infection worsens, it can lead to more serious symptoms, such as a buildup of fluid in the abdomen, heart failure, caval syndrome, and even death. 

How Can You Protect Your Dog?

Scheduling annual vet visits with your dog’s veterinarian is one of the best and most effective ways to protect your dog from the dangers of heartworm disease. Along with making sure your dog is eating, exercising, and behaving properly, your veterinarian can also perform annual heartworm tests to check your dog for any indications of this mosquito-borne disease. Preventive medications help to protect them from developing heartworm disease. But even with these medications, it’s important to make sure your dog still gets tested for heartworms at least once a year.  

Let the team here at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates help you provide the best pet healthcare possible. You can call us at (248) 646–5655 to learn more about our Beverly Hills, MI veterinary clinic or to schedule an appointment