What to Know About Heartworm
Heartworm is a diagnosis you don't want to hear from the veterinarian, especially if it concerns your cat. However, it's a preventable problem. Our animal hospital, serving Arlington Heights, Wheeling, Chicago, and the nearby regions, has veterinarians on staff who can treat this condition in dogs, provide support for cats with it, and offer preventative measures.
What Is Heartworm?
Heartworms are named after the type of parasite that attacks the heart. They can also infect the vascular system and lungs. Once these pests enter your pet's body, they grow and reproduce, potentially causing heart or lung disease. Heartworm infestation can also lead to frequent bouts of vomiting, which could result in dental problems and associated issues.
These parasites enter your pet's bloodstream through an infected mosquito bite. The baby worms then circulate through your pet's bloodstream and continue to reproduce. They can live inside your dog for five to seven years or two to three years inside your cat.
In the early stages, you may not notice any changes in your pet. Usually, it takes some time for symptoms to arise, and often, by that time, it's difficult to treat, if treatable at all. In many cases, pets won't make a full recovery.
When symptoms do arise, your pet may be reluctant to exercise. You may notice he is fatigued or struggle to breathe. Weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting are possible. Sometimes, pets will have a persistent cough. If the signs go unnoticed or the condition is poorly managed by a vet, it could develop into lung or heart disease.
Treatment and Prevention
Heartworm is treatable in dogs, but there is currently no treatment for cats, and it will need to run its course. Most cats see the infection clear on its own within four years, as felines aren't natural hosts for heartworm, making it difficult for the worms to thrive in a cat. We can provide guidance on how to keep your cat safe and optimize his chances of survival.
Due to the potential serious consequences and even death in dogs and cats, our vet strongly urges families to opt for prevention. For instance, we may recommend a simple, once-monthly chewable. You can administer it alongside your pet’s flea and tick prevention if you use a monthly treatment.
Contact Wheeling Animal Hospital and Pet Resort
If you suspect your pet has heartworm or you would like to prevent it, contact Wheeling Animal Hospital and Pet Resort, serving Arlington Heights, Wheeling, Chicago, and the neighboring communities. Book an appointment with our veterinarians by calling one of our offices below:
Chicago - 773-525-0472
Wheeling - 847-520-7387
Arlington Heights - 847-364-0400