Heartworm disease has now been reported in virtually all parts of the US and in many parts of Canada. This disease is spread by mosquitoes and thus New Jersey, who's state bird we jokingly say is the mosquito, tends to be paticularly hard hit especially in the upcoming months.
Heartworm strikes both cats and dogs, although much it is more commonly found in dogs. As the name suggests, this parasite lives in the heart and blood vessels often times filling the heart chamber preventing blood from ciculating and if blood doesn't flow our pets don't go:(
There are highly specific diagnostic testing and preventive medications which are used daily in your veterinary office. We can, with a small sample of blood, perform a preliminary heartworm (and in many cases such as at Animal Health Care we screen for 3 common tick diseases, too) screening test that is very accurate in detecting heartworm disease.
Signs of heartworm disease in dogs include:
- difficulty breathing
- tires easily
- weight loss
- rough hair coat
Many dogs will not have signs in the early stages of disease. If this disease is not detected early heartwom can lead to heart failure and death. This disease is so easy to prevent with an annual blood test and year-round preventative medications. And, currently the treatment for established heartworm disease is limited and may not be easily available if your pet needs it.
Although heartworm is seen less frequently in cats, the disease poses a greater danger. The outcome is often fatal as there is no approved treatment for cats. There are no consistent sings in cats. Common signs and clues include rapid breathing, coughing and vomiting (and what cat doesn't vomit?) and these signs are common in other diseases as well. Prevention is the best medicine and the veterinarians at Animal Health Care of Marlboro recommend Revolution as our preferred preventative of choice (also control fleas and intestinal parasites).
So protect your pets: see your vets. Petcha be glad you did…