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The Importance of Heartworm Prevention

If you have brought your pet to PetMed for preventative wellness care or other procedures in the past, you may have heard your Nashville veterinarians on our 4-vet team speak of heartworm prevention more than once. While this step may sound routine and unremarkable, the disease it prevents isn't. Heartworm disease is a debilitating and ultimately fatal cardiorespiratory condition created by masses of long, spaghetti-like worms. Depending on your pet, treatment may be either difficult or impossible. That's why prevention makes so much sense, and why our veterinarians in Nashville emphasizes both preventative medications and routine screenings to detect any sign of infestation as early as possible.

While a heartworm is a type of worm, it doesn't enter your pet in that form. Mosquitos carry the larval form from their previous encounters with infected animals, and when they bite your pet, the larvae are injected into the pet's bloodstream. As the larvae mature into adult worms, they settle down in the animal's heart and lungs, growing several feet long over a period of years and reproducing by the hundreds. Symptoms in dogs such as coughing, loss of appetite and fatigue may be slow to appear -- and eventually the dog dies of cardiopulmonary failure. Symptoms in cats may be sudden and acute, including seizures, vomiting and other dramatic events; the cat may even die suddenly before any symptoms become evident.

Heartworm Prevention & Treatment with Our Nashville Veterinarian

Heartworm prevention is critical because of the extreme difficulties in treating an in infestation once it takes hold. Cats can't be treated at all because the risk of fatal toxic reactions upon expelling the worms is so high. Dogs, however, can be treated successfully by the veterinarians on our team but it can take months just to stabilize the pet's condition enough to begin the intricate, equally lengthy process of heartworm treatment. Prevention is much easier, costs less, and spares your animal a great deal of potential suffering and may even save his life.

The good news is that there are several medications available that are highly effective at keeping heartworms at bay. Some, such as Interceptor Plus and Trifexis, are indicated specifically for dogs, while others, such as Heartgard and Revolution, are safe for both dogs and cats. Many heartworm medications prevent flea infestations as well heartworms. These preventative medications, which may come as chewable tablet or topical application, usually need to be administered on a monthly basis to provide your pet with constant protection. Our Nashville veterinarians can help you decide on the right product for your pet, instruct you on its proper use, and write provide you with the necessary prescription.

Early detection is also critical in cases where treatment is an option. The earlier our wellness lab testing can diagnose a case of heartworm, the less severe and more successful the treatment regimen. Call (615) 731-8074 to schedule heartworm prevention for your Nashville or Antioch pet! 

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