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Protect your pet from heartworm disease

Heartworm disease can have devastating health effects on your pet. When it comes to heartworm disease, prevention is the best treatment. Avoiding heartworm disease consists of monthly preventative treatments and an annual heartworm screening test. At 5 Points Animal Hospital, your pet’s health is our top priority. We want to help you understand what heartworm disease is and what you can do to help keep your pet safe from heartworm disease.


What are Heartworms?sick German Shepard with doctors hand


Heartworms are parasites that are transmitted by mosquitoes when they bite your dog. When a mosquito bites your dog, it transfers heartworm larvae into your dog’s bloodstream. Once this happens the larvae will grow until they reach adult stage approximately seven months later. The adult heartworms will then move to your dog’s heart and lungs, where they will reproduce quickly, compromising your dog’s pulmonary system. Initially, there are no symptoms of the disease, but once the lungs and heart are infected, your dog may develop a cough, raspy breathing, and they will become winded easily when taken out for a walk. If not treated, heartworm disease, also known as dirofilariasis, is potentially fatal.  Some infected pets show no signs of heartworm disease.


Heartworm disease has been recorded in all 50 states, so there is nowhere in the United States where you can avoid this parasite. That’s why, no matter where you live, it is important to protect your pet from heartworm disease.


Preventative Treatment


It is impossible to tell if a mosquito is carrying the heartworm parasite. The best option for your pet is preventative care. This is done by giving your pet heartworm preventative every 30 days and making sure that your pet receives an annual wellness checkup and annual heartworm screening test. Because heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal illness, we at 5 Points Animal Hospital strongly recommend bringing your dog in for annual heartworm testing to ensure that your pet is free of the disease. The American Heartworm Association also recommends that pets be tested annually for heartworm disease even if they are on monthly heartworm preventative.


It is our goal at 5 Points Animal Hospital to help you to provide the best care possible for your pet.  Please ask your pet’s veterinarian which heartworm preventative would be right for your pet.

Our online pharmacy can be helpful for providing heartworm prevention that will protect your pet from heartworm disease.  You may also purchase your pet’s heartworm prevention in the clinic.

Please protect your dog from heartworm disease. If you have questions about heartworm disease or prevention or to schedule a wellness exam or heartworm testing call us today at 615-750-2377. We look forward to helping you protect your pet!

The Importance of Year-Round Heartworm Prevention

When it comes to heartworm prevention, there is a common misconception about exactly how many months of the year you should be giving a pet his medicine. Since heartworms are typically transmitted to pets by mosquitoes, many people think that their dogs Heartworm Prevention - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospitaland cats do not need to take their heartworm preventive medication when these parasites are dormant during the fall and winter seasons. However, this is far from the best advice when it comes to protecting your pet from heartworms. In fact, the American Heartworm Society, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and other national experts strongly recommend that you should give your pet his heartworm preventive medicine every month all year long as well as have him tested for heartworms every 12 months. Since 2011, 5 Points Animal Hospital has been providing comprehensive and preventive veterinary services to the four-legged residents of East Nashville, and we are here to keep your pet safe from heartworm disease throughout the year. We would like to tell you more about why it is so important to make sure you take heartworm prevention seriously every month of the year.

What is heartworm disease and how does my pet get it?

Affecting dogs, cats, ferrets, and other mammals, heartworm disease is caused by foot-long worms that live in the hearts, lungs, and associated blood vessels of these animals. Severe lung disease, heart failure, and other organ damage can result from this serious and potentially deadly disease. The larvae of the heartworms are transmitted to pets and wild animals through the bites of infected mosquitoes. After maturing for six months, the larvae develop into adult heartworms, which can live in dogs for five to seven years and in cats for two to three years. These lifespans mean that the number of worms can increase each mosquito season. This is why it is so important to give your pet heartworm prevention medication every month.

If heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes, why do I still need to give my pet preventive medicine against heartworms in the winter?

According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworm prevention medication works retroactively, so it can eliminate new infections even if they were transmitted months earlier. Additionally, you should also be sure to have your pet tested for heartworms every 12 months, even if he is on year-round preventive treatment. An infection opportunity could be created if you miss a dose, are late with a dose, or your pet spits out or rubs off his medication.

At 5 Points Animal Hospital, we carry a wide variety of heartworm prevention medication in our East Nashville clinic as well as in our online pharmacy. The best way to stay on top of protecting your pet from this deadly disease is to follow a routine schedule of wellness and preventive care. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your pet.

Importance of Heartworm Prevention

If you’ve been to a veterinarian’s office, chances are you’ve seen the photos on the wall of worms growing from the heart of a dog or cat. Although these images may be unsettling, the message is clear: heartworm disease is fatal to pets. The good news: you can protect your pet from this disease. The disease is preventable, which is why so many veterinarians become frustrated when a case presents itself. The disease is very serious and the treatment is not very easy on the infected animal(s). It’s far easier and healthier for the pet to prevent the disease in the first place.

Preventing Heartworm In Pets - Nashville TN

The Cause

Infected mosquitoes carry heartworms. One bite can cause the parasite to enter a pet’s body and mature into long worms (up to 12 inches in length) that live in the heart and major vessels surrounding the heart. Heartworm disease can affect dogs, cats, and other species of mammals. If left untreated, the disease leads to significant and deadly damage to the pet’s heart, lungs, kidneys and liver. Heartworm infection has been diagnosed in all 50 states. Heartworm disease is most prevalent for dogs in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Alabama. In cats, heartworm is not as common, but the consequences can be just as serious if not more so since the disease is much more difficult to treat in cats than it is in dogs. The disease isn’t contagious from one pet to another and heartworms in humans are very rare.

Symptoms of Heartworm Disease

While heartworm disease might not cause your pet to exhibit symptoms in the early stages, if left undetected and untreated, it can cause sudden death. In most cases, a pet will show no initial signs of having the disease. The symptoms of heartworm disease in dogs can include the development of a persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after light exercise and a decrease in appetite followed by weight loss, whereas the symptoms of heartworm disease in cats can include vomiting, rapid breathing and weight loss. The treatment of adult heartworms in cats is usually not recommended so prevention of the disease altogether is particularly crucial for cats.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If your dog is diagnosed with heartworm disease, your 5 Points Animal Hospital veterinarian will perform lab tests, such as a complete blood count and a urinalysis, before beginning treatment, which typically includes medications to end the lifecycle of the heartworms. During the treatment process—which can vary in length but usually lasts for a few months—your veterinarian will continue to perform routine blood work to monitor the progress of the treatment and will likely instruct you to limit your dog’s activity. After treatment, heartworm preventives will generally be recommended to prevent re-infection.

Heartworm is easily transmittable—in fact, heartworm can be passed through the bite of just one mosquito. Implementing a year-round monthly heartworm preventive, as well as a yearly heartworm test, is crucial for minimizing your pet’s risk of contracting heartworm disease. If you have questions about this or any medical topic, please contact the experts at 5 Points Animal Hospital today. We look forward to helping you with all of your pet’s needs.

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