Heart Worm in Dogs

Heart-worm in Dogs 

For pets that live in the area around our animal hospital in Frederick County MD, we recommend that pets take heart-worm preventative on a constant basis throughout the year to prevent infection.  Jefferson Veterinary Hospital is currently offering a 10% discount on one years worth of heart worm when purchased from us in your pets annual well pet exam!

sentinel in the pharmacy of a veterinary hospital in Frederick md

What is Heart-worm?

Heart-worm disease is caused by foot long worms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. This causes severe lung disease, heart failure, and damage to other organs in the body. The dog is a host for heart-worms. Heart-worms can affect a dogs health and the quality of life after the parasites are gone. Because of this, using heartworm prevention is the best option, and if your dog does come up positive treating it as soon as possible is the best option. Cats can also get heartworm disease but it is much more rare. They typically have 1 to 3 worms, and the worms do not survive to the adult stage.

Adult heart-worms living in a infected host such as dog, fox, coyote, or wolf create microfilaria, baby heartworms, that circulate in the animals bloodstream. When a mosquito bites a infected host it picks up the baby worms that develop into larvae in a matter of 10 to 14 days. When this infected mosquito bites another cat or dog the larvae is deposited onto the animal’s skin. Once this larvae is in a new host it develops into adult heartworms.

The cycle of a heart-worm

1. An infected host is bitten by a mosquito

2. The mosquito is now infected with microfilaria (babyheartworms)

3. This same mosquito bites your dog, the larvae istransferred into your dog

4. The larvae grows into heartworms, taking up to 6 months.They then travel to the heart and pulmonary arteries

5. The adult worms reproduce and are found in your dog'sblood, this makes the process happen over again

The whole process takes up to 7 months.

Can I Buy Heart-worm Preventative from a Store,  Online Pharmacy or from Jefferson Veterinary Hospital?

sentinel in the pharmacy of a veterinary hospital in Frederick md

The FDA states that the medication is only to be used by licensed veterinarians. This means that all heartworm prevention should be purchased through a pet pharmacy which requires a prescription or straight from your veterinarian. If you purchase medication like this from an indirect source that doesn’t require a prescription you never know what you are actually purchasing and giving to your pet. By purchasing through a veterinarian you are positive of what you are buying and giving to your dogs.

Should I use Heart-Worm Preventative for my Cat?

Heart-worm preventative for dogs cannot be used in cats and the medicine used to treat dogs for heart-worm disease cannot be used in cats as well so preventing your cat from getting the disease is most important.  

What are the Symptoms of Heart-worm in a Dog?

Heart-worms can live in dogs for up to 7 years and up to 2 or 3 years in cats. Dogs can show a variety of symptoms of being heart-worm positive, or they can show no symptoms at all. Some symptoms include a cough, lethargy, decreased appetite, and weight loss. Pets can develop heart failure and have a swollen belly due to excess fluid building up in their abdomen.  In the community you live in your animals can be at a larger risk than you realize. You could also travel with your pets to an area with higher risks where heart-worm is a lot more common than you know.

Heart-worm disease is spreading to new regions every year. Stray and neglected animals can be carriers of heartworms. Heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states. Infected mosquitos can come inside your home, so both outdoor and indoor pets are at risk.

Testing for Heart-worm

Annual testing is recommended, if your pet is on heartworm prevention yearly and you never miss a dose, then you can test every other year just to be safe that your pet comes back negative. If you miss a few months, that is okay, we understand it happens (probably more frequently than you realize!) but you should get your pet tested before starting up on preventative. Be sure to get them tested as soon as possible in case they do come up positive, treatment needs to be done sooner rather than later. This disease is a serious and progressive disease. The earlier that the disease is discovered, the better the chances are for your pet to recover with treatment.

A heartworm test requires a small blood sample and is placed in a snap pro test machine to detect any indication of heartworm proteins. Puppies under the age of 7 months can be placed on heartworm prevention without requiring a heartworm test, this is because it takes 6 months for the heartworms to grow and be recognized through testing.

What Happens if I Forget to Give my Dog Heart-worm Preventative?

If you accidentally miss a few months of heartworm preventative you should go ahead and restart with the preventative, but test your dog 6 months later. The reason for testing is to make sure they come back negative, heartworms have to be about 7 months old before they can be diagnosed.  Sentinel Spectrum is the heartworm preventative that we recommend and sell here at JVH! This specific preventative also protects against parasites that your pet can pick up from outside. Sentinel can protect your pet from heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and fleas. 

Does the Heart-worm Preventative Jefferson Veterinary Hospital Veterinarians Recommend Protect Against Fleas and ticks?

Sentinel is not a full protection from fleas, so we still recommend using monthly flea and tick preventative also. This medication is in the form of a chewable tablet given once every month. Since your pet is consuming this chewable they are getting 100% of the prevention unlike when you use a topical. The topical can get washed off, rubbed off, etc. but the chewable is consumed.

Do Your Veterinarians Offer a Discount on Preventative?

JVH is offering 10% off the price of a limited number of one years worth of prevention with a well exam visit. Please give us a call or send us an email with any questions or concerns, we will be happy to assist you!