Heartworm Prevention and Treatment

Heartworm is something that you want to prevent your pets from getting. It is a parasite that causes damage to major organs in your pet's body and can lead to premature death. It is acquired through the bite of a mosquito that is infected with the parasite. When it comes to heartworm, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  A visit to your veterinary professional can set you on the right path to prevention and if you live in Des Moines, Ashworth Road Animal Hospital is there for you. 


Before your pet takes heartworm prevention medication they will need to be tested to be sure that they don't already have heartworm. In dogs this is a simple blood test, in cats, it is also a blood test but a little more testing is required. 



Cats get infected the same way as any other animal through the bite of an infected mosquito. Cats are not natural hosts however and it is quite rare for heartworms to live to be adults in a cat.  Cats can get Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD) which is a very serious condition. Cats can take heartworm prevention in the form of chewable or topical medication. 


Prevention for dogs can be in the form of a monthly chewable, which may be combined with prevention for fleas and ticks or may be given alone. This is something that you and your vet can discuss. It can also be given as a topical application once a month. If you have trouble remembering to do the preventive treatment, for dogs there is the option of letting the vet give you dog a twice-yearly shot. 



Cats cannot be treated with the medication that is used on dogs as treatment so it is doubly important to make sure that they are prevented from ever getting heartworm disease. If they do get it, then monitoring their condition is important, keeping them on preventive medication and dealing with any health issues that may have been caused as a result of the disease. 


If your dog tests positive for heartworm you need to reconfirm the diagnosis. The heartworm treatment is not easy and it can be expensive so you want to be sure that the test was not a false positive. Your veterinarian will administer melarsomine which is the only approved treatment for heartworm in dogs, it is injected. Adult worms should be dead within 1-3 months. Other drugs may be recommended in addition to help increase the chance of success. 

Contact us

Ashworth Road Animal Hospital in Des Moines can help you with your veterinary needs.  To choose the correct preventive heartworm treatment for your pet, call us at 515-225-1807 for an appointment. 

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