Keeping your pets healthy is typically managed through a good amount of exercise, weight control, and making sure they’re getting adequate nutrition. There are a number of genetic defects and parasite-induced diseases (parasitosis), however, that may cause your pets future harm no matter how healthy their lifestyles.
A lot of these diseases affect certain organs or body systems, such as the cardiovascular system. Heart worms, or parasites that invade the body and attach and feed on the heart muscles, lungs, and associated blood vessels, are a particularly deadly variant of the myriad parasites that may be making a home inside your pet.
Heartworms spread via mosquito bites, rather than through direct contact with another dog or its various excretions, meaning there’s no real way to prevent your dog from contracting heart worms if there are mosquitos in the area. The worms can grow anywhere from 4-12 inches in length, meaning that they provide a consistent and steady resistance to blood being pumped in the animal’s body.
The worms grow and mature into full adults over a period of 6-7 months, and as many as 250 or so worms can infect a pet’s cardiovascular system, with each worm putting greater and greater levels of stress on the animal’s heart. As the worms grow, the symptoms of the infection grow with them.
Symptoms of heart worms typically mirror other cardiovascular problems and may lead to believe your pet has another fatal heart disease, like cardiomyopathy or arrhythmias. As the worms mature and get larger, or more worms invade the cardiovascular system and increase the worm burden, your pet may go through a number of different symptomatic stages or classes:
- Class 1 involves limited or no symptoms
- Class 2 involves mild or moderate symptoms, like a consistent cough and unusual fatigue after usual activities
- Class 3 involves more severe symptoms, like a persistent cough and consistent fatigue even after limited or no activity
- Class 4 is classified as ‘caval syndrome’, where the worms have effectively blocked all blood flowing in or out of the heart, and is usually fatal
Heart worms can be prevented using a number of different methods, including tablets, a topical liquid, or injections. However, there are times when all of us forget to give our pets their daily tablets or ointment, and the period between switching from one preventative method to another may leave pets vulnerable to infection.
The best option available to us to ensure our pets are consistently healthy, especially when it comes to possible cardiovascular problems, is to regularly receive treatments and checkups with veterinarian consultants. For Orange County, that means scheduling a consultation with famed local cardiac vet, Carley Saelinger, the premier expert in pet cardiology.
Carley has been working with owners for decades ensuring their pets are as heart-healthy as possible, and that includes the diagnosis and removal of parasites such as the heart worm to prevent future damage caused by these virulent agents. Carley can help you distinguish between various cardiological issues in order to make the right decisions for your pet’s health and continued standard of living.
If you believe your pet may be suffering from heart disease or parasitosis that is causing issues with their cardiovascular system, give her a call. Your pet is important to you and brings immeasurable improvement to your life, and it’s time to return the favor:
(323) 393-0616 MARINA DEL REY, CA 90292