Heartworm Treatment: A Necessary Risk for Your Pet

Heartworm Treatment

Heartworms gestate through three phases (microfilaria, infective larvae, and adult) starting within a dog or cat; however, they must be carried by mosquito to another dog or cat to become adult heartworms. A mosquito that fed off of an invested pet, then injects the heartworms into a non-infected pet, causing infection. Living in the heart and pulmonary arteries, heartworms cause small blood clots that damage the lining of the blood vessels leading to high blood pressure in the pulmonary circulation. As the blood pressure rises, heart failure occurs in a slow process, generally not causing symptoms until a year after infection. Heartworms are 6" to 14" longl, flexible and thin and while not directly contagious, can infect another pet if bitten by a mosquito, transferring infection. Once killed, the dead heartworms can block the flow of blood to the lungs resulting in embolism, a common cause of death during heartworm treatment; this presenting the small, but necessary risk in treatment. The two options available for heartworm treatment are Carparsolate and Immiticide. The later being the most popular amongst veterinarians, pet owners, and pets alike. Immiticide has fewer side effects, kills a higher percentage of heartworms than Carparsolate, and reduces the risk factor in heartworm treatment considerably. When deciding to implement heartworm treatment, there are two critical things to consider for after treatment is administered. The first being that your pet needs to be kept cool for up to 8 weeks; most vets will recommend temperatures of less than 75 degrees. The second dictating that your pet be kept quiet and calm for 6-8 weeks. Necessary arrangements need to be made ahead of time to ensure that these conditions can be met. Further information about heartworm treatment can be found within the numerous articles here on Vetinfo.com.