Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated November 25, 2013)
One of the most common parasites that can afflict both cats and dogs in the United States is the heartworm. In fact, it is so common that there have been several (if not dozens) of different products produced that are supposed to help prevent heartworms from afflicting your best furry friend. However despite how common the parasite is, and how common the prevention remedies are, many pet owners do not take advantage of the precautions. If you don't plan on purchasing any of these precautions, then you may want to learn what heartworm symptoms are, as well as what actions you should take.
What to do:
There is one common thread between both cats and dogs that show symptoms of heartworm infestation, and that is the symptoms don't show up until you are already facing a serious problem. At this point, if you see that your pet already has several of these symptoms you need to get our furry friend into see a vet as quickly as possible.
When you take the pet in, the veterinarian will then run a few tests. The most common, and inexpensive, of these tests will be a blood test. One thing to remember about this is the earlier that you get a positive diagnosis then the better the chances of successfully treating the heartworms is as well as the lower the cost will be. More important than the cost, the earlier that you can get a positive diagnosis of heartworms then the better overall health that your pet will be in. This means that your pet will be in a better position to withstand the rigors that treatment can bring.
While prevention is always better than curing, there are treatments available for dealing with heartworms. The most common form of treatment for this parasite is to use a mild poison that is based off of arsenic. It is for this reason that you want to catch as early of a diagnosis as possible. Once your pet is given the treatment, expect them to be seriously tired, so don't expect them to be very active for several weeks. The treatment continues until test results come back showing that there are no more heartworms found. In the case of severe heartworm infestation, where the heartworms have fully matured, the treatment course can normally take over 18 months to complete.
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