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Protect your pet from heartworm

The doc is in! Keep your pet “heart healthy” with tips from Thomas F. Dock, Veterinary Journalist and Practice Manager, Noah’s Animal Hospitals.Heartworm Awareness Month: Indiana has the honor of being the 12th leading state in canine heartworm disease.  This is a deadly disease that is completely preventable and it can affect cats as well, even ones that are strictly indoors.  Talk with your veterinarian about the best way to protect your whole four legged family from this lethal parasite. Pet owners can see just how serious this disease is by visiting and clicking on the interactive map showing the prevalence of parasites in the states or even your county! Another great site is Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no way for one dog to directly infect another dog with heartworms.   From the time a mosquito passes heartworms to a dog (time of infection) to the time that veterinarians can see if the pet is infected takes 6-7 months. Most dogs with heartworms exhibit no symptoms at all. The most common sign of chronic heartworm disease is exercise intolerance, followed by a chronic cough. Heartworms can reach up to 2 feet in length and will live in the dog’s heart and pulmonary vessels for up to 7 years! Damage done by the presence of the heartworms is permanent and can lead to serious heart problems, liver issues and, eventually, death. Thankfully, veterinarians can prescribe safe and effective preventives that will stop the development of heartworm disease.  These oral or topical products are given on a monthly basis (every 30 days) and will keep heartworm larva from developing into adult worms.   There is also an injectable product that can prevent the disease for up to 6 months. The cost of prevention is generally about $10-20 per month and is far less expensive than actually treating the pet.  The cost of treatment for dogs with heartworms often exceeds $750 to $1200 or more, depending on the size of the dog. Sadly, there is no treatment for cats. Talk to your veterinary team about the best options for making sure your furry friends stay parasite free all year round!  

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