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Protect your pet from heartworms that can kill

Posted: 5:39 PM, Apr 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-17 18:39:29-04

April is heart worm awareness month and veterinarians are sharing tips on how to prevent your pet from getting the disease. Prevention is key, as the weather starts to warm up.

Already this year, veterinarians are seeing more cases of heartworm.

"It’s transmitted by mosquitoes," Dr. Andy Plauché of Lafayette Veterinary Care Center said. "A mosquito can actually bite your dog. That bite injects a baby heart worm into the skin of your dog, which travels through the body for about 4 to 6 months, which goes to the heart from there." 

Plauché says prevention is key, because symptoms don’t usually appear until after six months. If your pet does not have heartworm disease, your best option is to start using prevention pills.

"There’s a lot of different medications that are available," Plauché said."You have oral medication that contain things that prevent fleas and ticks. There are injectables." 

If you think your pet has heartworm, a blood test is used to confirm. However, there are a few things to watch out for.

Advanced stages include coughing, heart failure and a swollen stomach. Those stages are severe. 

Although it can be deadly, if caught early enough it can be treated. 

"When it (heartworm) dies it could cause some major problems. The dog has to be strictly confined for up to two months to prevent any sort of embolism from occurring," Plauche explained.