Heartworm Testing and Treatment

According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworms have been diagnosed in all fifty states. Heartworms are especially prevalent in south Mississippi. This is due to the high number of mosquitos, which carry heartworms. At Columbia Animal Hospital, special emphasis is placed on prevention, testing, and treatment as necessary.

What are heartworms, and how can my pet become infected?

Mosquitos who have previously taken a blood meal from a heartworm positive animal can pass immature heartworms to dogs and cats by biting them. If your dog or cat is not current on heartworm prevention, the immature worms can grow, causing serious damage to their arteries, lungs, and heart. This condition can often cause permanent damage, and even death in many dogs, as well as cats.

Can heartworms be detected?

Fortunately accurate blood tests are available, which can determine whether or not your pet may have heartworm disease. The veterinarians at Columbia Animal Hospital can perform these tests, and often have the results while you wait.

Are heartworms treatable?

Heartworms can be treated in dogs, although the process can be difficult for the dog and is often costly. Depending on the stage of the disease, many dogs can be treated with a drug known as melarsomine. The heartworm treatment using this product normally takes between 4 and 12 weeks to completely kill the heartworms living inside the canine. Overnight stays may be necessary as well, depending on the severity of the heartworm infection. Dogs must restrict exercise during heartworm treatment as physical exercise can actually increase the damage heartworms can do to the heart and lungs. Unfortunately, heartworms are not treatable in cats.

How can heartworms be prevented in my dog or cat?

Fortunately, there are medications available to prevent both canines and felines from becoming infected with heartworms. Our veterinarians spend a great deal of time researching which products are not only safe, but effective for preventing heartworms in your constant companion. Columbia Animal Hospital has the products available at our clinic, and our doctors recommend having your pet come in immediately for an evaluation if they are not currently on heartworm prevention. Remember that prevention of heartworm disease is always less expensive and more effective than treatment once your pet contracts these dangerous parasites. Please call one of our staff members today at 601-736-3041 and schedule an appointment for your furry family member.