Bethel Animal Hospital

7680 Bethel Road
Gainesville, GA 30506

(470)297-5800

bethelanimalhospital.net


PREVENTATIVE MEASURES

Parasite/Heartworm/Flea/Tick

Preventive care is the most important factor in maintaining your pet's health. Please view the information below to learn more about the preventative measures that should routinely be done for your pet.

Parasite Control

                                         Intestinal parasites such as hookworms and roundworms can be a troublesome concern, especially for very young animals. Most puppies/kittens are born with worms and dogs/cats remain susceptible to the harmful parasites throughout their lives. Worms lives inside your pet, making the symptoms difficult to pinpoint, and are therefore detected through a fecal analysis. Our hospital performs a fecal analysis on all new puppies and kittens. Internal parasites cannot only harm your pet, but many can also be transferred to children and adults, making them sick as well.

Dangerous parasites are always present in the environment. As a result, we recommend regular fecal checks and deworming. If your pet does have a parasite problem, we can provide you with different medications and treatments to remedy the problem and steer your pet back to good health. Preventive care and prescription medication are key, because of damages presented by intestinal parasites to both pets and people. Our primary focus is to provide your pet with the safest and most effective ongoing preventive care.

Heartworm

What is heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats and ferrets, but heartworms also live in other mammal species, including wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions and—in rare instances—humans. Because wild species such as foxes and coyotes live in proximity to many urban areas, they are considered important carriers of the disease.

Dogs. The dog is a natural host for heartworms, which means that heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate and produce offspring. If untreated, their numbers can increase, and dogs have been known to harbor several hundred worms in their bodies. Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. For this reason, prevention is by far the best option, and treatment—when needed—should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible.

Cats. Heartworm disease in cats is very different from heartworm disease in dogs. The cat is an atypical host for heartworms, and most worms in cats do not survive to the adult stage. Cats with adult heartworms typically have just one to three worms, and many cats affected by heartworms have no adult worms. While this means heartworm disease often goes undiagnosed in cats, it’s important to understand that even immature worms cause real damage in the form of a condition known as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD). Moreover, the medication used to treat heartworm infections in dogs cannot be used in cats, so prevention is the only means of protecting cats from the effects of heartworm disease.

How is heartworm disease transmitted from one pet to another?

The mosquito plays an essential role in the heartworm life cycle. Adult female heartworms living in an infected dog, fox, coyote, or wolf produce microscopic baby worms called microfilaria that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites and takes a blood meal from an infected animal, it picks up these baby worms, which develop and mature into “infective stage” larvae over a period of 10 to 14 days. Then, when the infected mosquito bites another dog, cat, or susceptible wild animal, the infective larvae are deposited onto the surface of the animal's skin and enter the new host through the mosquito’s bite wound. Once inside a new host, it takes approximately 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. Once mature, heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats. Because of the longevity of these worms, each mosquito season can lead to an increasing number of worms in an infected pet. 

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What are the signs of heartworm disease in dogs?

In the early stages of the disease, many dogs show few symptoms or no symptoms at all. The longer the infection persists, the more likely symptoms will develop. Active dogs, dogs heavily infected with heartworms, or those with other health problems often show pronounced clinical signs.

Signs of heartworm disease may include a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite, and weight loss. As heartworm disease progresses, pets may develop heart failure and the appearance of a swollen belly due to excess fluid in the abdomen. Dogs with large numbers of heartworms can develop a sudden blockages of blood flow within the heart leading to a life-threatening form of cardiovascular collapse. This is called caval syndrome, and is marked by a sudden onset of labored breathing, pale gums, and dark bloody or coffee-colored urine. Without prompt surgical removal of the heartworm blockage, few dogs survive.

What are the signs of heartworm disease in cats?

Signs of heartworm disease in cats can be very subtle or very dramatic. Symptoms may include coughing, asthma-like attacks, periodic vomiting, lack of appetite, or weight loss. Occasionally an affected cat may have difficulty walking, experience fainting or seizures, or suffer from fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Unfortunately, the first sign in some cases is sudden collapse of the cat, or sudden death.

Flea and Tick Control

Like most pet owners, you probably enjoy spending quality time both indoors and outdoors. Don't leave them at risk for any unwelcome visits from pesky parasites like fleas and ticks. Fleas and ticks can be very damaging to the human-animal bond, particularly when flea invasion gets out of control or when ticks hitch a ride with your pet. Not only can these unfriendly parasites make your pets extremely uncomfortable, they can pose grave health risks.

Since fleas can survive a cold winter by feeding on unprotected pets and ticks are active whenever it is warm enough outside for them to crawl about their surroundings, preventive measures should be taken year round. By undergoing measures to inhibit these outbreaks, the diseases these parasites transmit to pets and people can also be mitigated or prevented.

There are many safe and effective flea and tick control products available, and our veterinary team will help you choose the correct preventive regimen based on  pets risk factors and health status. Once a year, it is important to discuss with your veterinarian which external pest control products are ideal for your household, based upon the everyday life of your pet.