Heartworm Prevention and Treatment

Heartworm Treatment Can Make the Difference Between Life and Death for Your Pet

Taking your dog to your veterinarian once a year to get tested for Heartworm Disease is essential for the health of your canine companion. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions from pet owners answered by our veterinarian at Northern Veterinary Associates in Ishpeming, MI.

Heartworm Prevention and Treatment

What is heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease is an infection with a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. It is spread by mosquito bites to dogs, cats, and ferrets.

Heartworms look a lot like strands of spaghetti in their adult stage. Male heartworms reach a length of 4 to 6 inches. Female heartworms can grow as much as a foot long. Cats and ferrets usually have just one or two heartworms when they get infested, but a dog's body can be attacked by as many as 250 of these parasites in heart and lung tissue.

Can I get heartworms from my pet?

You can't get heartworms from your pets. Your pets can't catch heartworms from each other.  Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes during warm summer weather. They have to incubate inside a mosquito at temperatures above 80 degrees for at least two weeks to be capable of infecting your pet.

Male and female heartworms mate inside your pet's body. Their eggs hatch in your pet's heart and lungs. Heartworm larvae can last as long as two years inside your pet before they are absorbed in a mosquito bite so they can infect another animal.

How does my veterinarian know whether or not my pet has heartworms?

A simple blood test can reveal the presence of heartworms in an animal. Your pet's body will generate antibodies to the worms about five months after the mosquito bite that transmitted them.

Do cats get sick from heartworms?

Cats don't get as many heartworms as dogs, but their bodies are smaller, so the effects of the infection can be just as severe. Heartworms are harder to detect in cats than in dogs.

Does my dog need heartworm prevention every year?

Your dog needs heartworm treatment every year. This is particularly true if you live in a woodland area that has coyotes, bears, wolves, or foxes, which can also host heartworms that can be spread to your pets. Be extra sure to see the vet if you forget a dose of heartworm medication, or if you recently moved to Ishpeming, MI from a warmer, humid climate.

Visit Our Animal Hospital in Ishpeming, MI for All Your Pet Healthcare Needs

Request your appointment online or call us at (906) 485-6145. If your pet needs emergency care, please call us right now at (906)485-6145. The offices of Northern Veterinary Associates are located at 661 Palms Ave, Ishpeming MI 49849.

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