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Heartworm Treatment at Pleasant Valley Veterinary Clinic

One important service our skilled veterinarians at Pleasant Valley Veterinary Clinic in McMurray offer is heartworm prevention and treatment. Heartworms are most commonly associated with dogs. However, they affect many animals, including cats and ferrets. We are here to help you with preventative care for your pet to avoid heartworm infestations and treatment if your pet does become infested with these parasites.

What’s the Big Deal about Heartworms?

For dogs, animals that are nearly perfect hosts for heartworms to grow and thrive, heartworms are life threatening. They invade dogs' hearts, making it difficult for them to beat effectively, damaging the heart tissue and vessels, and causing damage to the lungs.

Symptoms of heartworm infections in dogs include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Labored breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Excessive fatigue, especially after brief and moderate exercise

Blood tests are required to verify the presence of heartworms in dogs and must be administered before administering preventative treatment in pups for the first time. Providing preventatives to a dog with an active heartworm infection can be lethal. With that in mind, most veterinarians test for these parasites before administering the first dose of heartworm preventative medication or after a dog has missed one month’s dose.

Preventative treatments must be administered once a month and cannot be skipped. If you miss a month, you will likely need to retest your dog at your animal hospital before new preventatives can be administered.

Symptoms of heartworm infections in cats are different from dogs. Cat symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Asthma-like attacks
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Fainting or seizures
  • Accumulation of abdominal fluid

In some cases, however, the first sign something is wrong in cats is their sudden collapse or sudden death.

Managing Heartworms in Pets

There are solutions for heartworms in dogs. These solutions involve killing adult worms and then preventing future development of young or immature heartworms with an effective preventative treatment. The second part cannot begin until all the adults have been eliminated and the dog tests negative for adult heartworms.

The damage left behind after a heartworm infection, however, cannot be undone. Depending on how quickly the infection was discovered, the damage can be minimal or devastating.

In cats, however, managing the condition is more difficult. There is no approved treatment for heartworms in cats, making preventative treatment that much more critical for cat owners.

Don’t delay. If you suspect your dog, cat, or ferret may have been infected with heartworms, call Pleasant Valley Veterinary Clinic at (724) 941-5484 or your favorite animal hospital in McMurray to schedule an appointment for testing and, if necessary, heartworm treatment. We are ready to help your precious pet through this horrible condition or to engage in preventative measures right away.