Heartworm Prevention and Treatment

One of the most concerning problems for pet owners today is heartworm. Dogs, cats, and other small mammals can get this condition from an infected mosquito bite, but dogs tend to be the most affected. Though it may take months to develop, it can become deadly for your pet. Our veterinary staff with At the Oaks Pet Hospital in Bakersfield will partner with you to treat or prevent heartworm disease in your pet. Doing so could save your pet's life.

Heartworm Prevention and Treatment

What Is Heartworm?

Heartworm disease comes from a parasite that grows into a worm that lives in the blood vessels around the heart. The worms can reach almost a foot in length and live up to seven years. Vets have reported seeing some dogs with 250 worms.

Where Does Heartworm Disease Come From?

As frightening as the condition sounds, it comes from an equally disgusting source, mosquitos. The cycle begins when a mosquito carrying heartworm larvae bites your pet. The larvae enter your pet's bloodstream where they eventually circulate to the heart and lungs. There, they grow and reproduce, birthing even more worms in your pet's system. These worms can cause severe and permanent damage to the heart and lungs, eventually killing the animal.

Does My Pet Need Heartworm Prevention Even if We Don't Have Mosquitoes?

Regardless of where you live, mosquitos will likely be nearby. Irrigation around homes and farms brings excess standing water where mosquitoes can breed, even in once desert regions. Year-round prevention will keep your dog from the harm caused by heartworms.

What Heartworm Prevention Options Are There?

When it comes to prevention, you have three choices, a monthly pill, once-a-month topical drops, and biannual injections, with costs averaging $35 to $85 a month. To get any of these, you must have a prescription from your veterinarian. These medicines also may help prevent your pet from getting other parasites. Talk to our veterinary staff about what will be the best choice for your pet.

What Type of Heartworm Treatment Will My Pet Get?

If your pet has heartworm disease, rest assured that he or she can receive effective treatment. To get the most from the treatment regimen, follow your vet's instructions carefully, especially the request to keep your pet still and calm.

Medications cause the worms to die and break up. To prevent parts of the parasites from causing fatal blockages in your pet’s lungs or heart, you must not allow your pet to exercise during treatment. Complications most often arise when pets continue exercising while on heartworm treatment. The exertion causes the problems, not the medication.

While we can treat your pet, realize the process will take months and cost much more than prevention. Even after successful completion of treatment, you need to get your pet on preventative medicine to keep the parasites from returning.

Contact Us to Keep Your Pet Healthy

Whether you need heartworm treatment or prevention, you must schedule a visit with a vet to get a prescription. Don't put your pet at risk from heartworm. If your dog already has this condition, bring him in for treatment. Heartworm can be fatal. Prevention is key to keeping your pet healthy. Let our veterinary staff help you with heartworm prevention, treatment, or any other health concerns you have for your pet. Make an appointment today with At the Oaks Animal Hospital in Bakersfield by calling us at (661) 665-8950 or contacting us online.