Dogs and cats get heartworm disease when an infected mosquito bites them. The heartworm then gets inside of their body and can reproduce, which only worsens your pet’s symptoms. The illness is much more prevalent in dogs, but cat owners also need to know about the symptoms so they can prevent and treat it if necessary. Puppies can start on preventive heartworm medication at eight weeks old without any type of testing. As six months of age, a puppy needs to test negative for heartworm infection before a veterinarian can prescribe preventive medication.
Heartworm testing in dogs requires only a simple blood test. Testing is a bit more complicated in cats and requires several blood tests before a veterinarian can make a diagnosis. This testing is typically done at the request of the cat owner when he or she suspects the animal may have contracted heartworm disease.
Previously, it was common practice for pet owners to give preventive heartworm medication from early spring to the first frost of winter. However, the American Heartworm Society now recommends keeping up with treatment all year long. This has the added benefit of killing other parasites that may be inside of the animal.
Signs of Heartworm Infection
Cats and dogs show signs of heartworm infection differently. Because of a cat's smaller body size, it's more likely for heartworm to affect their lungs and make it difficult to breathe. In dogs, heartworms live in the ventricles of the heart and the heart itself. The following are common symptoms of heartworm disease, although some pets show no symptoms at all:
- Weight loss
- Fatigue unrelated to exertion
- Loss of appetite
Treatment can be long and painful for an animal infected with heartworm. Fortunately, heartworm disease is almost 100 percent preventable with the proper medication. We encourage you to speak to Dr. Greetan, Dr. Kate, or Dr. Reed at Critter Care Animal Clinic for specific recommendations. Our veterinarians take your pet’s species, age, weight, lifestyle, and several other factors into consideration before recommending one product over another.
Order Heartworm Medication Online
With a MyVetStore Online account, clients of Critter Care Animal Clinic can order their pet's heartworm prevention medication quickly and easily. We offer numerous dosing options and strengths for both dogs and cats. You can even have a single dose sent to your home monthly with the Easy Dose It! Program. When you’re proactive about heartworm control, it’s not something you have to think about often.
Fleas are wingless insects with a lifespan ranging from 14 days to one year. Although tiny in size and not always visible to the human eyes, fleas can jump as high as two feet. They can’t survive and reproduce without a living host. The following symptoms are common indications of fleas or ticks in dogs and cats:
- Droppings that resemble grains of sand or tiny white eggs on the fur
- Excessive biting, licking, or scratching
- Fur loss
- Gums appear pale
- Scabs and hot spots
You’re most likely to spot these blood-sucking parasites on your pet’s head, neck, ears, and feet. Ticks live in tall brush and grass, making it easy to jump onto your pet’s body. Unfortunately, indoors pets aren’t immune from ticks since they can get into the house from another pet or a person.
Dogs and cats typically don’t show obvious signs of a tick bite. To make matters worse, you often can’t see them until they have become engorged with your pet’s blood. In the meantime, they can transmit diseases such as tick paralysis, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. If your pet goes outside, we recommend running your hands the entire length of his body every night. Be sure to check the underside for ticks as well.
Preventing Fleas and Ticks
You can reduce the flea and tick population in your yard by mowing the lawn frequently and picking up rake clippings and other yard waste. Using a flea comb and doing a tick check daily is the best way to ensure that these parasites don’t have a chance to do serious damage. We also recommend washing your pet’s bedding and toys in hot water weekly.
Dr. Greetan or Dr. Kornowski is happy to recommend the most effective flea and tick prevention products based on your pet’s species and lifestyle. Keep in mind that we also offer a range of flea and tick products in our online store.
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Critter Care Animal Clinic
2734 Calumet Drive
Sheboygan, WI 53083