Jacksonville Heartworm Prevention
Our Onslow County veterinarian sees an alarming number of heartworm cases (in dogs and cats) every year. This deadly parasitic infection is endemic in our area because mosquito season never really goes away. And all it takes is for your pet to become a victim is to get bitten by one heartworm-carrying mosquito. There are effective measures you can take to protect your pet and still actively enjoy the outdoors, however: namely, monthly heartworm-prevention medications. These can only be prescribed by your pet’s veterinarian because their safety and success at killing the larvae depends on getting the dosage right and not letting the medication lapse.
Monthly Heartworm Medications Save Pets’ Lives
When a heartworm-carrying mosquito bites your pet, these larvae enter the bloodstream at the bite site. Then they travel up through the bloodstream to the heart, where they latch on and start eating away at your pet’s heart lining. Over the course of about 6 months, they grow and expand into adult-size worms that clog your pet’s arteries and generally damage the heart to a potentially-fatal extent.
Regular parasite testing and constant vigilance with monthly prevention medication is essential because recently-infected pets usually show no sign of an infection. By the time you bring your dog to see our Onslow County veterinarian with symptoms of fatigue, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss and coughing, the infection is already very advanced and can be deadly without aggressive treatment. Unfortunately, infected cats currently have no reliable post-infection treatment available, so prevention is extremely important for felines!
It is important to call and schedule a heartworm test with our Onslow County veterinarian if:
- Your pet has ever lapsed on his or her monthly heartworm-prevention medications. If your pet has been infected during this lapse, starting on the preventative medication again can actually cause anaphylactic shock if the parasites have not already been killed.
- Your pet has gained or lost weight recently (which may mean the dosage needs to be changed; this can also be a symptom of other health issues including parasite infection).
- You have new pets and are not sure of their parasite-infection status.
- If your pet exhibits any of the above symptoms of heartworm infection.
It is very important that once your pet is on his or her heartworm-prevention medications, you put a little reminder on your calendar, phone, or other device so that you remember to administer the medication at the same time every month without fail. These medications are safe, easy to take, and often come in flavors pets actually enjoy. And they do a good job of killing the larvae from any mosquito bites before they get to your pet’s heart and start doing damage.
It can take dogs weeks and weeks on aggressive medications to recover from a heartworm infection, and infected cats currently have no treatment options. So please, call to schedule an appointment for screening with our Onslow County veterinarian today at (910) 353-1722.