Heartworm treatment can be a particularly grueling treatment depending on the severity of the infestation, which is why it’s so important to keep your pets on regular heartworm preventative. Today, our Raleigh vet clinic staff are sharing what you need to know about heartworm treatment and the importance of preventatives.
Heartworm Treatment: When Heartworm Preventative is Neglected
We have talked before about how our pets can become infected with heartworm – if you missed that article, you can find it here: Veterinarians Raleigh Residents Depend On Explain Heartworm Disease. Today we want to take a closer look at what happens when our pets do contract heartworm disease because we aren’t keeping up with regular heartworm preventative.
Heartworm infestation begins when an infected mosquito bites your pet. The mosquito deposits infected heartworm larvae into the bite wound. The larvae then burrow through your pet’s skin and tissue until they reach the bloodstream. This can take approximately two months. Once in the bloodstream, the heartworm are taken to the lungs or arteries where they grow and mature for around six to seven months. Once mature, they begin to produce their own offspring or larvae. If this “infected” pet is bitten by a mosquito, the heartworm larvae are transmitted to the mosquito which then goes on to bite another animal and spread the disease.
While the new larvae get deposited into the bite wound of another pet, the heartworms in the original animal continue to grow. These adult heartworms can live for up to seven years, all the while they go on producing offspring. The longer the adult heartworms remain in your pet’s system, the more chance they have to produce offspring which grow into adult heartworms (of around 8 to 12 inches long!) and increase the number of worms in your pet’s system. When we refer to the number of heartworms in an animal’s system, we call it a “load” or a “burden”.
As the burden of heartworms in your pet’s system increases, your pet will begin to experience more complications. These worms will begin to block the flow of blood to vital organs and damage organs where they reside. This damage can have life-threatening consequences and cannot be reversed.
When a pet has contracted heartworm disease, it’s crucial to begin treatment as soon as possible. This will keep the number of heartworms in your pet’s body from multiplying exponentially and causing further complications.
There are multiple methods of treating heartworm disease and the treatment that is right for your pet isn’t necessarily going to be the same treatment that’s right for another pet. Your pet’s treatment should be dictated by your vet and based on your pet’s current health, past health, age, and the severity of their heartworm infestation.
There are two main treatments for heartworm – a fast-acting and a slow-acting treatment.
The fast-acting method of treating heartworm involves a course of injectable medication. This medication includes arsenic and kills the adult worms in your pet’s system. An expensive treatment, this treatment also poses a risk to your pet’s health because it can be toxic to their body. It’s also important to take this treatment slowly and to keep the pet being treated as calm and still as possible throughout treatment because as the medication kills the worms, they break loose and can cause a blockage in blood vessels.
The “slow kill” method of treatment is a safer method of treatment as far as side effects are concerned, but it is not ideal for all patients because it isn’t as fast-acting. This method uses Heartguard heartworm preventative that is administered regularly to slowly kill heartworms. This method can take years to completely eliminate your pet’s heartworm infestation. Although the slow kill treatment is not as aggressive as injectable treatments, it isn’t always the best choice because it means that a pet lives with heartworms until the treatment has successfully killed off all of the worms.
Your vet will decide what type of treatment is best for your pet’s case of heartworms.
The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Pet Is Keep Them On Preventative Medications!
Even when using the slow kill method of heartworm treatment, the worms being eliminated from your pet’s system can cause complications. This is why the best thing that you can do for your pet is to ALWAYS maintain a regular schedule of preventative medications. If you are unsure as to which preventatives are best for your pet, give our North Raleigh vet clinic a call at (919)870-7000 and make an appointment to speak with one of our veterinarians about your pet’s needs!
Does Your Pet Need Heartworm Treatment in Raleigh?
If you live in Raleigh and have a pet suffering from heartworms, it’s important to consult a knowledgable vet right away to begin a course of treatment. Here in our Raleigh vet clinic, we treat and manage heartworm positive patients on a regular basis and would like to ensure that your pet gets the best course of treatment for their needs. To make an appointment with one of our excellent North Raleigh veterinarians, give us a call today at (919)870-7000!