How to Prevent Heartworm Disease in Dogs and Cats

Heartworm disease in pets is precisely what it sounds like; worms that infest the heart and pulmonary arteries.

heartworm disease pets

The mode of transmission of this disease is the mosquito. No dog or cat is safe from heartworm disease. In fact, a pet can become infected with heartworms anywhere and at any time. Infections have been reported in all 50 states.

Mosquitoes are more prevalent in the spring and summer, but the disease can be contracted at any time of year. Amazingly, it only takes a single bite from an infected mosquito to infect a pet.

Although heartworm disease is more common in dogs, it is much more deadly to cats. Heartworm disease can cause illness and can even result in death.

The good news is that this disease is essentially 100% preventable!

heartworm disease dog cat

In dogs, heartworms reside in the heart and surrounding blood vessels. This causes injury to the tissues which results in heart failure and pulmonary disease. In some cases, the worms can cause an embolus, or blockage, of other large vessels causing other organs to become affected. Severe and untreated cases can be fatal. Signs of heartworm disease in dogs are a deep cough, fatigue, lethargy, labored breathing, weight loss and distention of the abdomen.

While cats are less susceptible to heartworm infection, their body is much more sensitive to it. Cats can become severely ill or even die from only a small infection. Cats with heartworm disease may experience coughing, gagging, respiratory difficulty, lethargy, weight loss and even sudden death.

If a pet owner notices any of these signs, they should seek veterinary attention immediately. Many times, heartworm disease will produce no clinical signs, which is why prevention and regular screening is crucial.

Though heartworm disease is devastating, it is preventable. Here are the two simple steps to prevent heartworm disease in your dog or cat:

Step 1: Get your pet tested.

heartworm blood test cat

The first step to protecting a pet against heartworm disease is to get your pet tested. A simple blood test can reveal if a pet has been exposed to heartworm infection. Should a pet test positive for heartworm infection, additional diagnostics, such as radiographs or ultrasound, may be recommended by the veterinarian to determine the extent of the disease process.

Book your Vetco® heartworm test today.

Step 2: Administer preventative medicine.

heartworm preventative medicine chews dog

The next step to protecting a pet against heartworm disease is preventative medicine. On a pet to pet basis, the veterinarian will recommend an oral, topical or injectable preventative. Many of these preventative medications also protect pets against intestinal parasites. In most cases, a pet should be protected with medication year round.

So what if a pet does test positive for heartworm infection?

Unfortunately at this time, there is no safe cure for cats due to the serious side effects, such as blood clots, it produces. Instead, cats are usually limited to supportive care such as cage rest, oxygen therapy, and steroids. However, some cases of heartworm disease in cats can resolve on their own.

In dogs, newer and safer products have become available in recent years that are very effective in eliminating heartworm infection. Although, treatment of heartworm infection can produce side effects which makes follow-up visits to the veterinarian and close monitoring of the pet vital.

Source: Vetco® https://www.vetcoclinics.com/resource-center/heartworm-information

 

Get your pet tested for heartworm at one of our monthly vet clinics in partnership with Vetco®.

Click here to learn about Best Friends Pet Hotel’s veterinary care and vet clinics (in partnership with Vetco®); see our clinic schedule; and make an appointment.

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Dog Exercise: Common Questions Answered by Our Trusted Veterinarian

Answers to commonly asked questions regarding dog exercise and enrichment, provided by Dr. Sharon Davis, DVM

dog running trail

 

1. How often should I walk my dog?

dog leash in mouth, ready for walk

This depends on your dog. The breed of your dog, age, weather outside, and any underlying medical conditions affect the amount of exercise your dog should receive. Your veterinarian will be able to guide you to make sure your dog gets the proper amount.

 

2. How does a dog benefit from going on walks?

dog exercise walk

Dogs like people require mental and physical stimulation to live the fullest happiest life possible. Dogs who going on walks increase their physical health as well as their mental health. Exploring new areas and new smells stimulates the mind. Getting the heart pumping and blood flowing stimulates the body to function better and longer. You, the pet parent, also receive these added benefits as well. Also dogs who get mental and physical exercise tend to be less destructive and anxious in the home.

 

3. I have a yard, can I just let my dog go into he back yard rather then go on a walk?

dog exercise, walk

Even a yard that is fenced in is not 100% safe. Unwanted wild life can get into the yard causing harm to your pet. Your pet may also eat something without your knowledge. Though a yard is great, it is always a good idea to supervise your pet. Plus going on a walk together increases your bond with your pet.

 

4. Is it important for dogs to run off leash? Why or why not?

dog exercise, trail

This depends on your dog, its breed, age, and any underlying health conditions. There are certain breeds at certain ages that require more exercise than a human can keep up with on a leash. It is however always important to make sure that your dog is well trained to follow off leash commands and it is done in a safe environment following all local laws.

 

5. Is it important for dogs to play with other dogs?

dogs playing with toy

Dogs are pack animals and enjoy the company of other dogs. It is an important part of their socialization skills. Dogs who play together should be closely supervised, up to date on their vaccinations, and temperament compatible.

 

6. Does playing with other dogs eliminate unwanted behavior at home?

dog resting bed after exercise

Physical activity tires the body and the mind. It can prevent unwanted behavior that results from boredom. It is also an important way that dogs learn to socialize and understand social cues from other dogs.

 

7. My dog has not been in daycare or has been out of daycare for a few months. How do I ease the transition for him to go back to daycare?

Best Friends Pet Hotel Doggy Day Camp dogs
Doggy Day Camp friends at Best Friends Pet Hotel

This is where bringing your dog to a day care facility that has trained staff and you trust is very important. If your dog has never been to a daycare before the staff should do a temperament test on your dog to ensure he is put into a play circle that will work. It is also important that they gradually introduce your dog to one dog at a time. It can be overwhelming for a dog to be introduced to a pack of unknown dogs running at him. If your dog has just been out of daycare for a few months, the transition back should still be gradual but it will be much easier and quicker.

 

Doggy Day Camp at Best Friends Pet Hotel
To learn more about Doggy Day Camp at your local Best Friends Pet Hotel or to book a reservation, visit our Doggy Day Camp page. Or call your local center.

Pet Vaccinations: Common Questions Answered by Our Trusted Veterinarian

Answers to commonly asked questions regarding pet vaccinations provided by Dr. Sharon Davis, DVM

pet vaccination

In 2020, Best Friends Pet Hotel began offering monthly vet clinics (in partnership with Vetco) at our locations nationwide – as part of our ongoing mission to offer our pets and pet parents the most robust, premium pet care services around.

Since the start of our vet clinics, we’ve been receiving many important questions regarding pet vaccinations. So we decided to create this helpful resource for our pet parents by asking our trusted Veterinarian Consultant, Dr. Sharon Davis, DVM, for her expert answers and advice to your most commonly asked questions:

 

1. Why are vaccinations so important?

Vaccinations protect your pet and other pets against diseases, many of which are life threatening. It is much less expensive to vaccinate your pet than it would be to treat them if they got ill. It can prevent unneeded suffering for your pet and your family. Some vaccines are required by law, like the rabies vaccine. There are also viruses that can be transmitted to people if your unvaccinated pet were to contract it.

 

2. How do vaccines work?

Vaccines work by exposing the immune system to certain components of the unwanted virus. This lets the immune system gear up and produce antibodies against the virus. This is not instantaneous and it does take a few weeks for the body to produce these antibodies. Later if your pet is exposed to the virus, your pet’s immune system will recognize the virus and send those antibodies out to neutralize it before it can invade the cells and cause disease.

 

vet cat vaccination

3. What annual vaccinations do you recommend to pet parents?

Vaccinations that are recommended depend on you and your pet’s life style. Does your pet board? Do you go for walks in the woods? Do you live in a high rise apartment and your dog only uses potty pads in the house? Is your pet a hunting dog? Your veterinarian is there to help guide you in which vaccinations are important for your pet based on its life style.

 

4. How often should I vaccinate my pet?

Vaccination frequency depends on manufacturer recommendations, state laws, and pet’s lifestyle. As your pet ages, life style may change that it may no longer need a vaccine it used to get. State laws change as well. Some states require yearly rabies vaccines , others every three years. Your veterinarian is there to help you decide what is needed for your pet and your circumstances.

 

5. What happens if I miss a vaccination?

Missing a vaccination makes your pet vulnerable to contracting the disease you are trying to prevent. It is important for your pet’s health to stay current on vaccinations. Depending on the amount of time that has lapsed, there are some vaccinations that will require you to restart the series in order to properly protect your pet. Your veterinarian will be able to assist you in what your pet needs.

 

6. How do I know if my cat or dog is having a bad reaction to a vaccine?

A vaccine reaction can happen with any vaccine at any time, but is usually most common when receiving a new vaccination. It is important to monitor your pet for any facial swelling, hives, vomiting, diarrhea or difficulty breathing. If these were to occur you should seek veterinary care immediately.

 

7. Are there recommendations for puppies or kittens as it relates to vaccines?

Puppies or kittens receive some passive immunity from their mother through the placenta and the colostrum when they are born. This passive immunity will wane with time, this is why it is important the puppies and kittens get a series of vaccines to boost their own immature immune systems as the passive immunity they received from their mother wanes. Which vaccines are needed will depend on your puppy or kitten’s life style.

puppies kittens

 

8. As it relates to finding a place to vaccinate my pet, what types of things should I look for?

It is important to look for a place that not only vaccinates your pet but also examines them. There are certain times when pets present with medical conditions that make vaccinating them not in their best interest at that time. These medical conditions should be corrected prior to your pet receiving a vaccination. Go to a place you trust. A place that you can feel comfortable being able to communicate your questions to the staff.

Best Friends Pet Hotel and Vetco vet clinic
Monthly Vetco vet clinic at Best Friends Pet Hotel

 

vet care, vet clinic, vaccinations, Vetco, Best Friends pet Hotel
To learn more about veterinary care and monthly vet clinics (in partnership with Vetco) at your local Best Friends Pet Hotel, visit our Vet Care webpage. Or call your local center with any additional questions.