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It doesn’t matter where you live. Your dog or cat is susceptible to heartworms. Last month was Heartworm Awareness Month, and as summer sets into full swing, it’s important for the 46.3 million dog-owning households and the 40 million cat-owning households to be aware of the risks, symptoms, methods of prevention, and possible treatment for heartworm.
What is heartworm?
Heartworms are small parasites that can enter your pet’s bloodsteam via mosquito bites. The larvae work their way into the large blood vessels of the lung and into the heart, ultimately causing nerve damage and an interruption of normal blood flow. In result, your animal can contract forms of severe lung and heart disease.
All dogs and cats are susceptible to contracting the parasites. There are more than 76 million cats in the U.S., with 60 million of them being feral cats. That being said, it’s important to get your outdoor pets treated for heartworm.
How common is heartworm?
Each year, new cases of heartworm appear across the country. As climate change slowly shifts weather patterns, mosquitoes are becoming more widespread in colder regions of the country. Additionally, increased mobility of pets has encouraged the spread of heartworm.
What are the symptoms of heartworm?
Animals typically begin exhibiting symptoms for heartworm when the worms have fully developed in the lungs. As the disease worsens, dogs and cats may cough, become larthargic, or lose their appetite. They also may have difficulty breathing.
Experts recommend testing your pet starting at seven months of age. This test should be administered at least once a year. In addition to testing, focus on preventive medicine in the form of a topical medication or injection that you can get at the veterinary clinic. This medication should be administered on a strict schedule.
Health care for animals matters
Whether you’re caring for senior dogs or kittens, you should be diligent in the prevention of heartworm. Pet health insurance plans are one of the best ways to provide your pet with an affordable preventive medicine plan and a means of treatment if they do get heartworm. Pet medical insurance costs will not only be far less expensive than one-off treatments, but insurance for pets ensures that you are investing in the most important thing of all: your favorite furry companion.
What’s your experience with insurance for pets? Let us know in the comments below.