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Heartworm Disease

What is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm is a parasitic roundworm that is spread through mosquito bites.  When an animal is infected, the parasite lives in the heart, pulmonary arteries, lungs and associated blood vessels.  The affected organs fill with worms and interfere with normal organ function causing severe lung disease, heart failure and harm to other organs.  Heartworm is a very serious and life-threatening disease in pets.

What animals are at risk for Heartworm?

Heartworm Disease affects dogs, cats, ferrets, wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions and in rare cases humans.

What are the symptoms of Heartworm Disease?

Initially, your pet may not show any signs of infection.   Over time symptoms develop and grow worse.  Signs may include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Fatigue after moderate exercise
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss

As the disease progresses, symptoms escalate and can include:

  • Heart failure
  • Swollen belly
  • Cardiovascular collapse

Preventing Heartworm Disease

Heartworm Disease is very easy to prevent with regular blood testing and preventative medication.

  • Blood Testing: This ensures your pet is free from heartworm before they begin or continue their preventative medication.
  • Preventative Medication: There are several heartworm preventative medications available, some combined with flea or other parasite products and some chewable.  Preventative medication needs to be administered to your pet all year round, typically once per month.

Please contact the Animal Hospital of West Port St. Lucie to ensure your pet receives the correct treatment.

For additional information on Heartworm Disease, visit the American Heartworm Society Website.



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