A dog that lived his entire life in Fountain Hills has recently been tested positive for the dreaded heartworm disease.  heartworm disease prevention options make it easier than ever to keep pets protected.  We want to stress that heartworm disease is becoming more and more prevalent in our area, and our goal at Hillside Animal Hospital is to educate pet parents so that no pets suffer.

Transmitted through mosquitoes, the intermediate host of the parasite, heartworm disease is caused by foot-long worms that live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of the affected pet. According to the American Heartworm Society, these worms can cause severe lung disease, heart failure, and damage to other organs in the body. No matter their level of activity or living environment, all dogs are susceptible to heartworm disease, which is why it’s important to stay consistent, know the signs, and follow preventative steps to avoid this dangerous and potentially fatal parasite.

Stay consistent: Regular wellness visits and annual bloodwork with heartworm testing allow your Hillside Veterinarian to stay up-to-date on the health of your pet and monitor any concerning issues that may arise.

Follow preventative steps: Heartworm medication is a small price to pay when it comes to long-term health and wellness for our pets. Hillside Animal Hospital recommends year-round heartworm prevention for your pet. To make heartworm prevention easier, your Hillside healthcare staff offers Proheart6, a slow release injection that lasts six months. A monthly chewable tablet is also available for administering at home.

Know the signs: Signs of heartworm disease may include persistent coughing, reluctance to exercise, fatigue, decreased appetite, and weight loss.

As with most medical problems, it is much better to prevent heartworm disease than to treat it. Thankfully there is a treatment for dogs, the natural hosts for heartworm. Although costly and lengthy, most infected dogs can be treated. According to the American Heartworm Society, the goal is to first stabilize your dog if they are showing signs of disease, then kill all adult and immature worms while keeping the side effects of treatment to a minimum. Treatment requires your pet to be confined with restricted activity for up to 12 weeks.

A simple treatment from your veterinarian provides your dog with six months of protection—and gives you 6 months’ peace of mind.  To learn more or to get your pet tested and begin heartworm prevention, consult one of our Hillside team members and we will get you scheduled to see our veterinarians to ensure the best care for your furry friend.

By Daphne Graf, Client Service Representative