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Heartworms in Pets

Heartworm disease in pets is easy to prevent but difficult and costly to cure. Left untreated it is potentially fatal. Dogs and cats contract heartworm disease when they are bitten by an infected mosquito.

When that mosquito bites your pet it transmits the larvae to your pet. Left untreated the infant larvae will live in the bloodstream and heart and develop into mature adults producing more microfilariae (microscopic heartworm larvae). The heartworms can live 5 to 7 years in a dog and 2 to 4 years in a cat. The heartworms will block major blood vessels that support the kidneys, liver and lungs and will live in the right side of the heart. This can cause significant damage even before the pet shows any symptoms.

What are the symptoms of heartworm disease? The primary symptoms are a cough, difficulty breathing and being tired after exercise. Heartworm disease is easily prevented. Testing for heartworms is inexpensive and takes less than 10 minutes. There are many excellent products available for your dog or cat. It is important that Florida dogs and cats receive monthly heartworm prevention year round. Heartworm prevention encompasses a separate subject which I will address in a future article.

For more information or to make an appointment for your pet Please call us at Sunshine Animal Hospital 813-885-7071.

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