The Pet Owner’s Guide to Heartworms

February 10, 2023

As a pet owner, it is important to be aware of the dangers of heartworm infection in pets. Preventative measures such as giving heartworm preventative medication regularly are the only way to protect pets from these parasites. Pet owners must understand the importance of heartworm prevention and take the necessary steps to protect their pets.

What is a Heartworm?

Heartworm is a type of roundworm found in cats and dogs and is the most common type of intestinal parasite in the United States. Heartworm can cause various symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. Left untreated, a heartworm can even be fatal. Fortunately, heartworm infection can be prevented with some simple steps.

Cat and dog together on floor indoors

What Is Needed for Heartworm Prevention?

The first step in preventing heartworm infection is ensuring pets are adequately vaccinated. Many veterinarians recommend that cats and dogs be vaccinated against heartworm annually. Additionally, pet owners should ensure that their pets are dewormed regularly. This is especially important for puppies and kittens, as they can be more susceptible to heartworm infection.

In addition to regular vaccinations and deworming, pet owners should regularly inspect their pet’s stool for signs of heartworm. Heartworm eggs are small and difficult to see, but they can be found in the stool of infected animals. If heartworm eggs are found in a pet’s stool, it is crucial to seek veterinary treatment immediately.

tabby cat and border collie

Pet owners should also take steps to reduce their pet’s exposure to heartworm. This includes keeping pets away from areas where wildlife, such as raccoons, may be present. Heartworm eggs can be found in the feces of infected wildlife and can be passed to pets if they come into contact with the infected feces. Additionally, pet owners should keep their pets’ living areas clean, as heartworm eggs can survive for long periods in contaminated environments.

Finally, pet owners should be aware of the risk factors for heartworm infection. Pets exposed to areas with high moisture levels, such as rivers, streams, and ponds, may be more likely to become infected with heartworms. Additionally, animals in overcrowded or unsanitary conditions may be at increased risk. This makes heartworms a real problem in shelters, breeding facilities, and similar areas with large congregations of pets.

Pet owners can help protect their pets from heartworm infection by taking the proper precautions. Regular vaccinations and deworming, along with inspecting pets’ stool for heartworm eggs, can help reduce the risk of infection. Reducing exposure to wildlife, keeping living areas clean, and being aware of the risk factors can help keep pets safe from heartworm.

British cat and Golden Retriever

Ready to Protect Your Pets?

Take the first step to protect your pet from heartworm disease today! Talk to your veterinarian about the importance of regular heartworm testing and preventive medication for your pet. Together, we can create a personalized plan to protect your pet from heartworm disease. Contact us or give us a call to schedule your heartworm prevention visit at Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital!