Many pet parents have heard the term “heartworm” before, but may not know what it is, how pets get it, and why testing and preventative care is so important.
What is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease is a serious, progressive disease that affects pets. It is also potentially fatal if left untreated. In infected pets, heartworms live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels and arteries and can cause severe heart failure, lung disease, and other problems with organs in the body. Heartworms are easy to detect and easy to prevent, but difficult to cure.
How do dogs get heartworm disease?
The only way a pet can get heartworm disease is through the bite from an infected mosquito. If a mosquito is infected and bites a dog, the disease will then be transmitted to their body.
In the early stages of heartworm disease, many pets show few symptoms, or no symptoms at all. Because of this, early testing and detection is key. The earlier the heartworm disease is detected, the better the chances that the pet will recover from the disease.
Testing and Prevention is Key
To detect the presence of heartworms in dogs, the veterinarian will take a small blood sample. This blood sample will then be tested to see if there is a presence of the heartworm protein in your dog’s body. If you don’t get your dog tested, you won’t know if they need treatment.
In order to purchase heartworm preventatives, a prescription from the vet is necessary. The vet will not prescribe the medication until the necessary testing is done. In some rare cases, administering preventative medication to a pet that already has the disease can cause serious reactions that may be fatal.
The most common preventatives for heartworms are ivermectin (Heartgard), milbemycin (Interceptor) and selamectin (Revolution).
- Heartgard is a real-beef chewable that prevents heartworm disease and kills heartworm larvae, roundworms, and hookworms.
- Interceptor is a real-chicken chewable that prevents heartworm disease and treats and controls hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, and tapeworms.
- Revolution is a topically applied medication that prevents heartworm, kills and prevents fleas, controls ticks, and treats and controls ear mites and sarcoptic mange.
The Snap 4DX Test is a blood test for dogs that tests for Heartworm as well as Erhlichia, Lymes, and Anaplasmosis, three diseases that transmitted by ticks. Within minutes, the results of the 4DX are determined. If the results are negative, prevention can begin. If the test comes back positive, steps can be made towards the treatment of these diseases.