Our hospital offers guidance on a number of parasite control programs.
What are Heartworms?
Heartworms are extremely dangerous parasitic worms that can easily infect dogs and cats. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. When an infected mosquito bites an animal, it transmits tiny heartworm larvae into their bloodstream. The larvae enter the new host and make their way under the skin. The larvae quickly grow into adult heartworms and invade the heart and lungs of the host. Heartworm disease is deadly if it is left untreated.
Florida has an ideal climate for mosquitoes and our pets are constantly at risk. According to the CAPC, 1 in 85 American dogs tested positive for heartworm disease. 1 in 72 dogs tested positive in Florida, 1 in 68 tested positive in Seminole County and a staggering 1 in 63 dogs tested heartworm positive in Volusia County.
All pets are at risk of contracting heartworm disease. Due to the rampant mosquito population, heartworm prevention is particularly important in Florida and other southern states. Heartworm prevention should typically start around 6 to 8 weeks of age and be given to the pet monthly for the rest of their lives. Heartworm preventative medicine is safe, easy and inexpensive, especially when compared to treatment.
We offer a variety of preventatives for you to choose from, so you can find one that best suits you and your pet. All of our preventatives are extremely effective and will provide you with peace of mind. Merial’s Heartgard Plus is 100% guaranteed when purchased through your veterinarian.
Outdoor cats and dogs are not the only ones at risk of heartworm disease. Reportedly 30% of cats diagnosed with heartworm disease are considered indoor only cats by their pet parents. There is currently no approved treatment for heartworm disease in cats, so prevention is critical. During your pet’s next wellness exam, ask us to run a quick blood test to ensure that your pet is heartworm negative. Then we will provide you with the prescription medication of your choice. FDA regulations require a new heartworm test once per year.
Heartworm Disease Symptoms
• Dysfunction of the lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys
• Exercise intolerance
• Dyspnea (difficulty breathing)
• Abnormal lung sounds
• Syncope (temporary loss of consciousness due to lack of blood flow to the brain)
• Abnormal heart sounds
• Eventually death
It is possible to cure a dog with heartworms, but there are not any known cures for heartworm positive cats. Treatment for dogs requires multiple injections of Immiticide into the back muscles. Immiticide is FDA approved and considered safe, but it is very expensive. Due to the nature of the treatment process, it can take months for an infected dog to recover. Treatment for heartworm disease requires hospitalization and long periods of inactivity. While there are many success stories, the procedure can cause a lot of stress on your dog.
Did you know that most puppies and kittens have intestinal parasites? Intestinal parasites, including worms, can be harmful to your pets. A regular de-worming schedule is vital for puppies and kittens to protect them from intestinal parasites. Puppies and kittens should be checked for intestinal parasites as early as 3 weeks of age. At which point they should start their regular de-worming schedule. Adult dogs and cats should be tested semi-annually and de-wormed as necessary.
Testing for Internal Parasites in Pets
Veterinarians at VCA Newman-Daytona will test your pets for worms and other internal parasites by taking a small stool sample from your pet. Common parasites found in dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens include:
Luckily these intestinal parasites can be safely treated with a veterinarian recommended de-worming protocol.
Helpful Hints to Protect Your Pet from Worms
• Bi-annual fecal examinations
• Use de-worming medication when needed
• Flea control products aid in the prevention of Tapeworms
• Clean up your pet’s stool regularly
• Keep your pet away from other pet’s feces
• Stay away from stagnant, standing or brackish water
• Avoid uncooked meat or anything that could contain fleas
• Symptoms of Internal Parasites
Some symptoms of intestinal parasites include:
• Anal Irritation
• Loss of Appetite
• Weight Loss
• Worms in their feces
Pets with worms may not show any symptoms. Fecal exams are a standard part of your pet’s wellness exam.