Heartworms a threat in summer

  • Tuesday, July 29, 2014

After a week of summer storms, the standing water provides prime breeding territory for mosquitoes infected with heartworm disease. Pet Helpers advises owners to take extreme precautions to protect their pets from this deadly disease.

According to the American Heartworm Society, the Lowcountry has some of the highest rates of heartworm disease in the country. Heartworms can cause heart failure, lung disease, and liver disease in untreated cats and dogs. Heartworms are spaghetti-shaped parasites that live in the right side of the heart. Adults can grow from 4 inches to 18 inches long. The heartworm babies (called microfilaria) are produced by the adults and circulate in the blood. The microfilaria then are picked up by a mosquito, which can transfer the infection.

The only means of preventing your pet from contracting the disease is to administer a monthly heartworm preventive for its lifetime. It is important to visit your veterinarian for a yearly heartworm test even if you are vigilant about giving the medication. Routine preventive care is inexpensive and easy; far more cost effective and humane than allowing your pet to contract the disease, which can cost hundreds of dollars to treat.

Pet Helpers is offering low-cost testing, preventive and treatment for pets not currently protected. To make an appointment, visit www.pethelpers.org.

Visit the Companion Animal Parasite Control Council website at http://www.capcvet.org/ or the American Heartworm Society website at www.heartwormsociety.org.

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