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Prevention vs. Treatment

Why Prevention Just Makes Sense

The heartworm parasite presents a serious and sometimes fatal threat to companion animals. Unfortunately, it is not difficult for your pet to be infected,  and it’s difficult to treat in dogs. There is no heartworm treatment for cats.

The main route of heartworm transmission to dogs and cats is through a mosquito bite. When a mosquito bites an infected animal such as a dog, cat, coyote, fox, or wolf, its takes in larvae from baby worms. The larvae develop into mature heartworm over the next 10 to 14 days. If the mosquito lives that long, it will bite again and transmit heartworm to an unprotected pet or wild animal.

 

Signs of Heartworm Infestation in Dogs and Cats

 

It’s common for animals with heartworm not to show any symptoms in the earliest stages. As the heartworms continue to grow and multiply, it will eventually cause your pet significant distress. The most common symptoms in dogs include:

·   A mild but persistent cough

·   Fatigue after only moderate exercise

·   Resistance to exercise

·   Loss of appetite and weight

·   Heart failure

·   Swollen abdomen

·   Difficulty breathing

·   Pale gums

·   Dark-colored urine

 

The last five symptoms represent serious infestation. Most dogs will not survive at this point without surgical removal of the heartworms.

With our feline friends, the first indication of heartworm is often sudden collapse and death. Those who don’t progress that quickly may display some of these symptoms:

·   Coughing or asthma

·   Vomiting

·   Appetite and weight loss

·   Difficulty walking

·   Seizures

·   Fainting

 

Heartworm Treatment is Long and Expensive

 

If your dog tests positive for heartworm, you will need to restrict exercise right away. This means you need to prevent him from engaging in regular physical activities as well. The next step is to stabilize your dog over the course of several months before our veterinarians can begin administering medication. Your dog then takes one or more rounds of medication approved by the American Heartworm Society. The last step is for your dog to receive a test approximately six months after administration of the last dose of heartworm medication to ensure that he is free of the parasite.

 

Although no heartworm medication currently exists for cats, we may be able to provide your cat with supportive care such as IV fluids and antibiotics. You will also need to ensure that your cat avoids strenuous physical activity at home. Some heartworm issues resolve on their own in cats since they don’t make an ideal host. However, many cats die from the parasite or have permanent health issues such as asthma.

 

If one compares the average cost of heartworm prevention ($5.00-10.00 per month) vs. treatment (up to $2000), not to mention overall impact of heartworm infection to your pet’s health, it’s clear to see that prevention simply makes sense. Why put your pet through the discomfort or potential long term health risks when heartworm prevention is affordable and effective?

 

Prevention is Much Easier

At Westgate Pet Clinic, we follow guidelines from the American Heartworm Society that people should provide their dogs and cats with year-round heartworm prevention. We encourage you to shop in our online store for prevention products or to ask us for a recommendation. We even offer an option where you can purchase your preventive medications one month at a time, shipped to you, on schedule. It’s easy to remember when your medication arrives right to your doorstep! For a limited time, you can also receive a rebate when you purchase Heartgard, Nexgard, or Frontline heartworm prevention products for your pet.

 

 

Image credit:  kozorog / iStock / Getty Images Plus

In it Together - Devoted Resolutions

in it together devoted resolutions

It’s a new year, and you have vowed to get in shape and improve your health. Although you might have made this resolution before only to fall back into old habits before the end of January, you mean it this time. The good news is that having a pet gives you even more motivation to achieve better health. Not only does the love of your furry companion give you the incentive to take better care of yourself, but it encourages you to improve your pet’s health as well.

Commit to Pet Health and Wellness in 2018

 

While you can make decisions about what you eat and whether you’re going to exercise, your pet depends on you to decide such things for her. For example, she has no control over what you pour into her food dish. Ultimately, it’s up to you to set the pace and expectations for both yourself and your pet. Here are five pet wellness tips to keep in mind for 2018:

 

  • Keep your pet at a healthy weight to avoid the risk of diabetes, heart disease, joint pain, and other common health problems. If your pet is already overweight or obese, speak to us at Westgate Pet Clinic before switching her diet. We are happy to recommend a low-calorie food that still offers all the nutrients your pet needs.

  • Bring your adult pet in once a year and your dog or cat over age seven in twice a year for a preventive care exam. Pets age significantly faster than we do, which means your seven-year-old dog or cat is already middle-aged. A lot can happen with your pet’s health in a year that might otherwise go unnoticed without the exam. It’s also a chance to ask questions about behavior, diet, parasite protection, and any other concerns that you might have.

  • Spay or neuter all pets over six months old. It reduces pet overpopulation, decreases the risk of ovarian or testicular cancer, curbs aggressive behavior, and offers several other health benefits.

  • Don’t forget about the importance of good oral healthcare for pets. Gum disease can lead to loss of bone and teeth that makes it difficult for your dog or cat to eat because she can’t chew her food properly. We recommend daily brushing at home and proactive dental care. At your pet’s examination, we may suggest a professional veterinary dental procedure.

  • Microchip your pet to increase the chances of a happy reunion if she gets lost.

Make Fitness Fun This Winter

 

Cats should stay indoors in the winter, but that doesn’t mean they should just sleep away the day. Be sure to rotate your cat’s toys regularly and engage in play with her to keep her mind sharp and body healthy. Food mazes or food puzzles are perfect to help enrich your cat’s environment, and keep obesity at bay.

 

Dogs who don’t get regular exercise in the winter can become hyperactive and destructive. Unless it’s dangerously cold outside, bundle up and go for at least a short walk every day. You may need to put a sweater on your dog for warmth or booties to protect her paws from chemicals and the discomfort of walking on cold pavement. While you might not appreciate having to leave your warm house, it’s great exercise for both of you and it helps to strengthen your bond as well.

 

Happy New Year from all of us at Westgate Pet Clinic!

 

Image credit:  Neniya / iStock / Getty Images Plus

 

Our Mission:

We provide the quality care our clients expect and their pets deserve, by relying on the expertise and
compassion of each team member.

 
 
 

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Westgate Pet Clinic
4345 France Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55410
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