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There are a few words that strike fear into every pet's owner's heart and with good reason. "Rabies" is one -- and "heartworm" is another. These lengthy worms can grow entire communities inside some unlucky animals' hearts and lungs. Heartworm infestations can devastate your pet's health and dramatically shorten his life. Fortunately, West Market Veterinary hospital can provide not only heartworm treatment but also preventative programs to keep these parasites away from your best friend.
Pet don't actually ingest adult heartworms; instead, they receive the immature form of the worms (known as microfilariae) through the bite of an infected mosquito (which got them from yet another infested animal). The microfilariae complete their life cycle inside the heart and lungs, maturing into long, thin worms. In dogs, heartworms can completely overrun these organs until normal cardiopulmonary function becomes impossible, a process that creates a lengthy slide into illness and possible death.
Cats only host a few heartworms at a time, but this doesn't make them "luckier" than their canine counterparts. Those few worms can cause a condition known as heartworm-associated respiratory disease. Even worse, when the worms die they release inflammatory substances that can trigger severe, potentially-fatal immune system reactions. Some cats may seem perfectly fine one moment, only to suffer a fatal episode with no warning.
A visit to our Greensboro veterinary clinic can spare your pet from the ravages of heartworm or even save his life. Either vet on our team can evaluate the stage and extent of a heartworm infestation to make the appropriate medical recommendations. Heartworm treatment in dogs generally consists of an initial phase in which we administer antibiotics and drugs to kill off any immature worms. Several weeks of drug therapy then wipe out the mature worms. Unfortunately, this treatment protocol is unsafe for cats with heartworm, because a sudden die-off of the worms can have similarly deadly effects for your pet. Treatment options for cats include controlling any symptoms or, in severe cases, surgery.
Prevention is the easiest and safest way to safeguard your dog or cat against heartworm. We can prescribe a program of monthly preventative medication that keeps any invading microfilariae from developing into dangerous adult worms. Better yet, some of these drugs also prevent other types of worms or pests from harming your pet.
Your pet deserves a life free from heartworm. Make it happen by calling West Market Veterinary Hospital at (336) 292-4753 to schedule an evaluation, preventative care or treatment!