April is Heartworm Awareness Month, and the timing couldn’t be more important as the East Tennessee mosquito population starts to emerge. In fact, the American Heartworm Society has unveiled the 2016 Heartworm Incidence Map, and Tennessee is in the top 5 states for occurrences. Approximately 7 in 8 of the surveyed veterinary practices diagnosed heartworm-positive pets during 2016.
Heartworm disease is transmitted to pets through mosquitos, so each mosquito season adds to a pet’s chances of developing heartworms. Mosquitoes transmit heartworms by picking up microscopic “baby worms” called microfilaria that are produced by adult worms living in an infected animal, and then transfer the microfilaria larvae when they bite another animal. It takes about six months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms, which can then live for several years in the infected animal. The heartworms can grow to be a foot long and infect the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels.
The symptoms are typically silent until the disease has progressed to a dangerous degree. Heartworms can cause severe lung disease and damage to other organs in the body, as well as heart failure and, if untreated, death. Even after the parasites are treated, heartworm disease can sometimes cause lasting damage to the heart, lungs, and arteries.
Heartworm disease affects primarily dogs, but cats, ferrets, coyotes, and foxes can also carry the disease. Canine heartworm infection can also lead to a life-threatening form of liver failure, which is usually fatal without quick surgical intervention. Signs of heartworm disease may include:
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Swollen abdomen
Fortunately, heartworm prevention is safe and easy, and is a much more affordable option than treatment. Monthly heartworm prevention medications, like Interceptor Plus and Tri-Heart Plus, will protect your pet against developing heartworms, as well as other parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. We also offer a heartworm preventative injection, ProHeart 6, that lasts for 6 months at a time.
By operating convenient hours for non-surgical care, PetWellClinic® is able to offer substantially discounted prices for safe heartworm, flea, and tick preventative products, as well as vaccinations, wellness exams, and treatment of minor conditions. Think of us as a “minute clinic” for your pet—no appointment necessary, with quick in-and-out service. You can save even more time by pre-registering and pre-paying online for our walk-in clinics.
PetWellClinic® has three locations: 10549 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37922; 7329 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919; and 228 S. Calderwood Street, Alcoa, TN 37701. Learn more about how PetWellClinic® can exceed your expectations for affordable, top quality pet care by visiting our website at www.petwellclinic.com.