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Heartworm infections are a serious, yet preventable, medical condition affecting dogs and cats. The worms negatively impact the health of the heart as they grow and multiply. Over time, the worms can number in the hundreds and reach nearly one-foot long. Thankfully, you can work with your Colorado Springs veterinarian at Faithful Friends Animal Hospital to keep your pet safe from heartworm infections.
Put quite simply, heartworm larvae enter your pet’s body when an infected mosquito punctures the skin. The larvae quickly enter the bloodstream and end up trapped within the heart muscle. Your vet can test for the presence of heartworms to determine if your pet needs immediate care.
There are many heartworm tests, though the antigen test is most commonly used. The heartworm antigen test detects invaders in the bloodstream to positively identify the presence of these internal parasites. Your Colorado Springs vet may use a different test, or a combination of diagnostic procedures, depending on the unique needs of your pet.
First and foremost, veterinarians focus on preventing heartworm infections with chewable medications. The preventative medication prevents the larvae from reaching the heart and reproducing there. You will need to administer this medication monthly year-round to keep your pet protected.
If you stop heartworm preventative, then you will need to have a test performed before restarting again. Otherwise, your pet could suffer severe side effects as the preventative affects the grown heartworms.
Pets affected with heartworms will need immediate treatment to make a full recovery. The treatment process involves a series of injections that kill the heartworms and help your pet’s body expel the parasites. Although the injections are administered in a large muscle in the back, your pet may experience soreness the day after.
Your vet may also use antibiotics to jumpstart the immune system and encourage the natural removal of the parasitic invaders. Continued testing and treatments must continue until all adult and larvae heartworms are dead and eliminated from the body.
If you want to discuss heartworm preventative and care with your veterinarian in Colorado Springs, call our Faithful Friends Animal Hospital clinic at 719-596-8544. We are always available to help our valued patients remain healthy throughout their long lives.
We welcome you to partner with us in the care of your loveable furry companion.