Frequently Asked Heartworm Questions with Your Troutdale Veterinarian

Heartworm is a clear and present danger to your Gresham or Troutdale dog or cat, but you might not have a clear idea of what this infestation can do, what you should do if your pet has it, and how to keep your pet from getting it in the first place. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions on the subject here at Paws & Claws Pet Medical Center.

  • What is heartworm disease? Heartworm disease is a parasitic infestation characterized by long, thin worms that grow in an animal’s heart, lungs and blood vessels. These worms cause increasingly serious health problems that can end in death.
  • How is heartworm transmitted? Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitos. When a mosquito bites an infected animal and then bites another animal, it injects heartworm larvae from the first animal into the second animal’s bloodstream.
  • What are the symptoms of heartworm? The symptoms of heartworm vary somewhat between dogs and cats, although fatigue, coughing, loss of appetite, breathing problems, and a distended abdomen are common signs. A dog may suffer a gradual decline in cardiopulmonary function over many years before dying of the disease. A cat may show less obvious symptoms before going into seizures or even sudden death (often caused by a toxic reaction to the death of worms within the body).
  • When should I bring my pet to your animal hospital for treatment? If your pet is refusing to eat or exercise, exhibiting respiratory issues or growing larger in the belly, bring him to our animal hospital right away so your Troutdale veterinarian on our team can check for a possible heartworm infestation that requires treatment.
  • What kinds of heartworm treatment are available? A dog with heartworm must undergo an extended treatment program, using medications that kill any larvae first, and then any adult worms. Unfortunately, drug-based heartworm treatment is too dangerous to use on cats. A cat with a serious infestation may need surgery from your Troutdale veterinarian to extract the worms.
  • Is heartworm preventable? Not only is it possible to prevent heartworm infestations, our animal hospital urges pet owners to put their pets on preventative medications as early in life as safely possible. These medications can stop any larvae that might enter your pet’s body from surviving to adulthood.

Get More Answers About Heartworm Treatment and Prevention

If you want to make certain that your pet has the best chance for overcoming heartworm or living a heartworm-free life, you owe it to him to call Paws & Claws Pet Medical Center at (503) 661-1833 for an appointment. We can tell you more about heartworm treatment and prevention even as we’re taking steps to protect your pet against this deadly disease!