"Heartworm Prevention with Heartgard...
Although heartworm disease is potentially life threatening and troublesome to treat in its advanced stages, the disease can easily be prevented with the regular use of preventatives like Heartgard. Most veterinarians recommend that pet owners give their pet dog or cat Heartgard regularly in order to prevent costly and debilitating heartworm infections.
Prevention of the illness is both easier and less costly than having to treat the illness after it has been diagnosed. Even the early stages of heartworm disease can be potentially challenging to treat. This is because treatments involve medications that are toxic and require several visits to a veterinarian. Blood work must be done, and in many cases the pet must be hospitalized for some period of time.
Benefits of Using Heartgard to Prevent Heartworms
There are several benefits of using Heartgard to prevent heartworm disease including: saving money by not having to worry about paying for expensive late stage heartworm treatments, peace of mind that a pet dog or cat will not be threatened with dangerous heartworms which can grow up to 12 inches long and infect the blood, lungs, and heart of a pet, and the added benefit of the prevention of hookworm and roundworm infections.
A veterinarian can prescribe Heartgard, and in most cases it will be prescribed as a preventative since the heartworm parasite is found all throughout the United States and in the rest of the world. The parasite is called dirofilaria immitis and it is carried primarily by mosquitoes. Once a mosquito carrier bites a host dog or cat, heartworm infection may begin.
Heartworm infections take about 6 months from the time of exposure in order to be detected by a test. Therefore it is also important to have a dog or cat checked regularly for infections so that they are caught early on. Because dirofilaria immitis can be found in so many geographic locations at many different times during the year, most veterinarians will recommend year-round prevention of the disease with Heartgard.
How Heartgard Works to Prevent Heartworms
Heartgard is a medication that is given monthly to prevent heartworms with its active ingredient: ivermectin. Ivermectin is the most effective at killing the parasite that causes heartworms in its larval stage, also known as the L3 or L4 stage. Heartgard is also effective at sterilizing adult heartworms and preventing further progression of an already existing heartworm infection.
By killing the larval stage of the disease, the parasite does not have the opportunity to progress to its adult stage where it causes more serious problems in the host. Some of the symptoms in a dog that may result from heartworm infections include tiredness, dizziness, mild to severe coughing, respiratory difficulties, and more.
In the late stages of the disease, there are severe lung problems, heart failure, liver failure, and kidney failure that can lead to death. In cats, vomiting and gagging is often seen as a symptom of heartworm infections.
If any of the above symptoms are seen in a pet cat or dog, it should be immediately taken to a veterinarian for further diagnosis.