Saturday, April 18, 2020

National Heartworm Awareness Month!

American Heartworm Society
(C) American Heartworm Society, Used by Permission

WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! Barks! April is National Heartworm Awareness Month! Paws, Heartworm is a nasty disease that affects dogs and cats. Barks, dogs are the natural hosts but it is not their fault!

Arf? What is Heartworm Disease? It is a serious and potentially fatal disease caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure, and damage to other organs. Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats, and other animals. Barkingly, I learned that by reading the American Heartworm Societies Pet Parent Resources page. 

WOOFS! Heartworm is transmitted to dogs through the bite of an infected mosquito! Paws, how do you tell if a mosquito is infected? You can't. Barkingly, all it takes is for one to bite your dog!

Paws, if untreated, the disease can affect the dog’s health and quality of life even after the parasites are gone! Heartworm causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs, and arteries. Barkingly, in the early stages, dogs show few or no symptoms, paws, as the infection persists, symptoms develop! Arf, a few symptoms include a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite, and weight loss. 

WOOF, er MEOWS! Cats are affected by Heartworm too. They are an atypical host for heartworms, and most worms in cats do not survive to the adult stage. Paws, heartworm disease is often undiagnosed in cats. Pawingly, it is impawtant to know, the immature worms can cause damage in the form of a condition is known as ‘heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD).

The symptoms in cats can be very subtle or very dramatic! Paws, they may include coughing, asthma-like attacks, periodic vomiting, lack of appetite, or weight loss. Paws, occasionally an affected cat may have difficulty walking, experience fainting or seizures, or suffer from fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Unfortunately, the first sign in some cases is a sudden collapse of the cat or sudden death.

Barks, medications used to treat heartworm infections in dogs cannot be used in cats! Prevention is the only means of protecting cats!

How do you prevent it? Humans must take appropriate action through medications or treatments as recommended by their dog or cat's Veterinarian.

Barks, my humans adopted me from PetConnect Rescue knowing that I had been diagnosed with Heartworm. The rescue did the appropriate treatment with their Veterinarian, but my humans had to agree to continue treatment as specified by my Veterinarian. In my paws, it is with a monthly pill. WOOF! I'm proud to say he has done it consistently for ten years.

If you would like to learn more about heartworm, visit the American Heartworm Society where you will find a wealth of information!

National Heartworm Awareness Month!

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