What are Heartworms and how can I prevent them in my dog?
Heartworms are every bit as disgusting and horrifying as the name suggests – they live inside the heart, lungs, and arteries of affected animals. A single worm can grow up to a foot long. Think about that for a minute.
Adult female heartworms also produce tiny baby worms called microfilaria that circulate through the bloodstream. Baby worms. Swimming in the bloodstream. It’s the stuff of horror movies. Only you and your vet can help prevent it.
How is Heartworm Disease Spread?
Mosquitos are nature’s vampires and they spread heartworms. When an infected animal is bitten by a mosquito, it not only ingests the blood, but also the microfilaria contained in the host’s blood. Over the next 10-14 days, the microfilaria mature into infectious larvae.
The mosquito is now highly infective, primed and ready to transmit the larvae the next time it bites an animal. It will take about six months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms in the host animal, and from there, the cycle begins all over again.
Mature heart worms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats.
Each mosquito season put animals at risk for developing the disease or growing numbers of worms in already infected animals.
Signs of Heartworm Disease in Dogs
In the early stages, many dogs will show few symptoms or worse, no symptoms at all. The longer the infection is present, the more likely symptoms will develop. Get your dog tested, and onto a course of preventive treatment if your vet recommends it. Signs of heartworm disease may include:
Mild persistent cough
Fatigue after moderate activity
Signs of Heartworm Disease in Cats
While most heartworms do not survive to adult stage in cats, it can happen. The signs can be very subtle or very dramatic. Symptoms may include:
Coughing or asthma-like attacks
Lack of appetite
Treatment of Heartworm Disease
Prevention, prevention, prevention. Effective treatments for heartworms in dogs do exist, but they are expensive and painful for your pet. There is no treatment for heartworms in cats.
When Gabriel’s Angels and the AZPetVet team get together, you can count on lots of laughter, dogs everywhere, and some pretty terrible jokes flying around. Don’t believe us?
How do dogs start playing golf? They tee arf, of course!
OK, it’s a terrible pun. It’s just our way of saying that AZPetVet is excited to be a pawsenting sponsor of the Gabriel’s Angels FORE! Paws golf tournament at Camelback Golf Club.
Over the past 18 years, Gabriel’s Angels has brought innovative Pet Therapy to Arizona’s at-risk kids. Pet Therapy helps increase the overall sense of well-being and happiness for children in a safe environment. It helps to build critical core behaviors like trust, empathy, respect, tolerance, and self-esteem.
Through great public events like these, we can help highlight the incredible good that the Gabriel’s Angels Therapy Teams do in our communities while raising critical funds to help more children.
Through the generous financial support of local businesses, organizations, individuals and families, Gabriel’s Angels can recruit and train more therapy teams to meet the needs of so many at-risk kids that can help brighten their future. A pretty good number of Gabriel’s Angels are rescue dogs, and they take to therapy like they were born to do it. Maybe they were.
This year, Gabriel’s Angels will reach more than 15,200 at-risk children. Next year, the money raised at this tournament and other fundraisers could help reach hundreds – or even thousands – more. Let’s make it happen together.
Emergencies can happen at any time. Would you know what to do in case of an emergency with your pet? Here are five great Pet First Aid steps you can take today.
1/ Every home should have a First Aid Kit, including one specifically for pets. Basic Pet First Aid kits are available online and through some veterinary offices, but with a little guidance from your vet, you can easily put together your own.
Remember, emergencies are not always health related, so it’s smart to include important phone numbers (see tip #2), health records, current photo/s, feeding instructions, along with copies of your pet’s registration and microchip numbers.
2/ Keep emergency numbers near your home phone and put them into the contacts list for your cell. Start with your regular veterinarian, the poison control center, plus the nearest 24-hour emergency vet clinic (handy for after hours). If your pet is microchipped (and it should be) be sure to record the actual microchip number. When was the last time you updated the contact information tied to the micrchip? If you’re not sure, check.
National Animal Poison Control Center: 888.426.4435
Pet Poison Helpline: 800.213.6680
3/ Take a Pet CPR class! The American Red Cross and many other organizations offer training and certification classes for Pet CPR. YouTube also has a wealth of video training. Search “Pet CPR classes” plus your city to find a range of resources, both online and off.
4/ Of course there’s an app for that! The American Red Cross offers a free Pet First Aid app for smartphones. Owners have access to step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid emergencies. In the interest of being prepared, it might be a good idea to download the one for people, too! Text “GETPET” to 90999, or visit the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for direct downloads.
5. Know when to seek emergency veterinary help. The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) emergency list:
Severe bleeding or bleeding that doesn’t stop within 5 minutes
Choking, difficulty breathing, or nonstop coughing and gagging
Bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum, coughing up blood, or blood in urine
Inability to urinate or pass feces (stool), or obvious pain associated with urinating or passing stool
Injuries to your pet’s eye(s)
You suspect or know your pet has eaten something poisonous (such as antifreeze, xylitol, chocolate, rodent poison, etc.)
Seizures and/or staggering
Fractured bones, severe lameness, or inability to move leg(s)
Obvious signs of pain or extreme anxiety
Heat stress or heatstroke
Severe vomiting or diarrhea – more than 2 episodes in a 24-hour period, or either of these combined with obvious illness or any of the other problems listed here