Heartworm disease is a serious but preventable condition. The American Heartworm Society estimates that over 1 million dogs in the United States have heartworm disease. Since it can be fatal, it is important to keep your dog protected.
Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes and has been detected in every state, so anywhere that has even a few mosquitoes can also have heartworm. You can take measures to keep your dog from getting bitten, but the most effective method for preventing heartworm is through preventative medication. This can be done with monthly medication that you give your pet or through injections given by your vet every 6-12 months.
As part of your pet’s annual wellness check, your veterinarian can run diagnostic tests to make sure your pet is free of heartworm. You can get a prescription for preventative medication from your vet while you’re there. It’s important to make sure your pet takes her heartworm medication each month to ensure protection. Don’t just give it during warm months. Year-round protection is important.
Symptoms of heartworm disease can be undetectable at first but get worse as the condition progresses. They can include:
- Persistent cough
- Fatigue or reluctance to exercise
- Weight loss
- Poor circulation
- Swollen abdomen
Talk with your vet to learn more about heartworm and other parasites that can affect your pets. Your vet will know what parasites are prevalent in your area, so you can take the right measures to keep your pet safe.