When it comes to the potentially deadly heartworm disease, prevention is better than treatment. It is important that vets and dog owners discuss preventative care options. Recently, an expert panel in Australia has developed the first heartworm prevention guidelines to remind people of the real risk of the disease.
What is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm or scientifically called, Dirofilaria immitis, is a parasitic worm that is spread between animals through mosquitoe bites. Heartworm is spread by mosquitos. A mosquito bites an infected animal and when that mosquito bites a second animal, the tiny heartworm larvae are injected into the animals skin and the larvae develop in the animal’s tissues. The heartworm typically reside in the heart and lungs of an infected animal and seriously affect the host animal by causing damage to the animals tissue which leads to infection and sometimes death.
Heartworm disease is easily prevented through medication which can come in many forms including tablets, ‘spot on’ treatments or injections, that can be administered daily, monthly, or annually. Year-round prevention is recommended.
Is your pet at risk?
If your pet does not receive heartworm medication then yes, your pet is at risk. Heartworm most often affects dogs, but it can also infect cats, wolves, coyotes, foxes and other animals. In very rare circumstances heartworm can infect humans.
The most common signs include:
- Unusual laziness or lethargy
- Lack of endurance when exercising
- Loss of appetite
- Enlarged abdomen
Contact your veterinarian today to discuss heartworm disease and how you can protect your pet from this deadly parasite.
Photo credit: Briar Gate Blvd Animal Hospital
This Blog was written by the furry family at Petplan Australasia. Petplan Pet Insurance specialises in animal and animal industry insurance. Our practices keep the role that pet insurance plays in responsible pet ownership and the health of the pet at the forefront. For tips to keep your pet healthy, make sure you follow us on Facebook.