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Posted on 04-04-2012

San Diego veterinarians advise on heartworm prevention

Heartworm is a parasite that is spread by mosquitoes from dog to dog. Cats can also be affected by heartworm. At Rancho San Carlos Pet Clinic, Inc., in San Diego, our veterinarians provide medication to prevent heartworm in pets. Our veterinarian will also examine your pet on a regular basis to make sure he has not developed the condition.

How Heartworm Spreads

Mosquitoes carry heartworm from animal to animal. A mosquito first takes blood from a dog or cat who already has the heartworm larvae in her blood. The larvae then develop inside the mosquito into a third stage, which is infectious. If the mosquito bites another dog or cat at this point, the larvae transfer to the animal and reach maturity in the animal's bloodstream and heart over a period of six months or so. As the larvae mature, they grow into worms that can be up to 18 inches long.

Heartworm Prevention and Treatment at Veterinary Hospitals

Our veterinarian can provide medication to prevent heartworm in your dog or cat. There are a few preventative medication options available from our San Diego veterinary hospital. Some medications are given orally and must be given each month. A topical medication is also available. We are happy to discuss the appropriate medication for your pet with you.

Preventing heartworm is essential, especially for cats, as there is no treatment available if they end up infected with heartworm. Treatments are available for dogs. Heartworm treatments kill the worms. The treatment can be very uncomfortable for your pet, as the worms can block the lungs or arteries. The immune response to the dead worms can also lead to inflammation and pain. Once the adult worms are killed and removed, your dog will be given preventatives to remove and destroy any larvae that are still in her system.

If you live in the El Cajon, La Mesa, Santee and San Diego areas of California, and are concerned about heartworm, talk to our vets about prevention at your next visit.

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