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A Matter of the Heart - Heartworms and Your Pets

As spring approaches and the weather gets warmer, you and your pets will wander outdoors more often. Heartworm disease is a condition that affects dogs, cats and in rare cases even humans. Outdoor pets are at a greater risk of getting heartworms, as the disease is carried and spread by mosquitoes, but even indoor pets are susceptible to the disease. It's a good idea to start preventative measures against heartworm before it can become a problem for your pet.

When an infected mosquito bites your pet, the worms are injected into your pet's body and transported through the bloodstream. Eventually, the worms settle into the pet's heart vessels which are an ideal environment for them to grow and reproduce. When heartworms infest your pet's heart, they damage the blood cells and the vessel walls. This can cause clotting, scarring, and narrowing of the blood vessels. In addition, your pet's heart is forced to pump faster and its blood pressure goes up. Over time, this leads to heart failure.

The best way to determine if your pet has heartworms is to see the veterinarian regularly and have the appropriate testing completed. Once a vet has determined that your pet does not have heartworm, there are many heartworm prevention medications such as Heartgard Chewables, Valueheart and Dimmitrol that you can give to your pet orally at home.

The best way to treat heartworm is always to prevent it from infecting your pet.  And, the earlier you catch heartworm in an infected pet, the better your chances of getting rid of the worms before they cause any long term damage. For these reasons, both cats and dogs need to be checked regularly by a vet for heartworm.

Regards

CanadaVet.com Management & Staff

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