At Naperville Animal Hospital, we offer personalized attention to cats and dogs, including boarding, grooming, training, day care and veterinary health services. One of the most common diseases affecting dogs and cats that we treat at Naperville Animal Hospital is heartworm disease. Most prevalent in areas bordering the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, as well as along the Mississippi and its tributaries, heartworm disease has spread to all 50 of the United States. A mosquito-borne disease, the condition also affects coyotes, foxes, wolves, and other wild animals.
Heartworm disease is transferred through bites; heartworm microfilariae inhabit the infected bloodstream and, when a mosquito bites an animal infected with the microscopic larvae and move on to another animal, it transfers the disease. The effects of heartworms are not immediately apparent: microfilariae start by inhabiting the lungs and heart in small numbers. As colonies build up to critical mass they crowd into the heart and the larger blood vessels surrounding the heart and lungs. Generally, the period between initial microfilariae infestation in dogs and reproduction by adult worms in the heart is half a year. Mature heartworms can reach one foot in length, remaining in the cat or dog’s heart for several years. These mature colonies affecting the heart appear similar to bunches of spaghetti strands.
The symptoms of heartworm disease may manifest themselves a year after infection, through a slight cough that intensifies with physical exertion. As the disease intensifies, the pet exhibits lethargy and tires easily. Finally, respiratory distress prevents prolonged or intensive outdoor activity of any king. This final stage is characterized by protracted discomfort leading to congestive heart failure.
Fortunately, orally and topically administered treatments exist to prevent heartworm disease from spreading. These medications offer an additional benefit of eliminating other types of pet parasites. Treatment options for already infected pets are available as well. Should you detect heartworm symptoms, consult immediately with an experienced veterinarian: testing for heartworm simply involves a blood test that identifies parasites. Visit Naperville Animal Hospital at https://www.demandforce.com/b/160003658 to learn more about heartworm disease and other common pet health issues.