AUSTIN, Texas, April 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- April marks National Heartworm Awareness Month, a time for pet owners to brush up on how heartworm prevention can keep their pets safe from the serious and potentially fatal heartworm disease. Pet owners should take this month as a reminder to discuss with their veterinarians how to best prevent heartworm disease in their pets. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for heartworms in cats, and the treatment for infected dogs is complicated and costly. An effective prevention plan is the best tool a pet owner has when taking on this life-threatening condition.
In contrast to the seriousness of heartworm infection, prevention is safe, easy and inexpensive. Prevention options include daily and monthly tablets and chewables, monthly topical medications and, for dogs, a six-month injectable product. All of these options are completely effective in preventing heartworm development when administered properly on the schedule recommended by your veterinarian.
"There is no way to predict where or when mosquitos will show up, and that is why we recommend year-round heartworm prevention," said Nancy Turner, DVM, a member of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association who practices at Vickery Place Animal Hospital in Dallas, Texas.
Heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states, with a higher concentration of cases in regions of the U.S. with warmer temperatures and higher humidity levels, like Texas. Pets are infected when a mosquito harboring the heartworm parasite feeds on them, allowing the parasite to enter the pet's tissues and bloodstream. The heartworms migrate to the pulmonary arteries, obstruct the normal flow of blood from the heart as they mature and gradually spread to the heart itself. Signs of heartworm infection in dogs include coughing, fatigue, reduced appetite and weight loss. The signs of heartworms in cats mimic other feline diseases and include vomiting, gagging, difficulty or rapid breathing, lethargy and weight loss.
About The Texas Veterinary Medical Association Founded in 1903, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association is a professional association composed of more than 3,700 veterinarians committed to protecting public health, promoting high educational, ethical and moral standards within the veterinary profession and educating the public about animal health and its relationship to human health. For more information, call 512/452-4224 or visit www.tvma.org.