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Preventing and Detecting Heartworms in a Dog or Cat A Heartworm is a parasite that enters its host, usually a dog, but often cats and other mammals, through the bloodstream. The infection, if not detected early, can prove fatal. In the spring, veterinarians recommend having dogs and cats tested for exposure to heartworms from the previous autumn’s mosquito population. Mosquitos are the most common form of carrier of this dreaded parasite. In addition to providing warm shelter, a healthy diet using organic pet food, and giving a pet lots of love, along with regular checkups, are all vital to a pet’s health. What Are Heartworms? Heartworms are worms, similar to earthworms, which can reach six to ten inches in length at maturity. They go through four separate lifecycles: two in the carrier, and two in the final host, usually a dog or cat. They begin as microscopic organisms called microfilaria and reach sexual maturity at stage four when they can produce hundreds of microscopic baby worms that are released into the host animal’s bloodstream. How Does The Pet Get Heartworms? Mosquitoes feed on an infected host, such as a dog. The microscopic organisms live within the mosquito through two lifecycles. They then travel to the mosquito’s salivary glands. This allows them to enter the next host when the mosquito bites its next victim. The development continues with the larvae passing through two more molts before reaching sexual maturity. This can take six to seven months and is the reason the animal should be tested in the spring to see if it was infected last summer or fall. What Are The Symptoms Of Heartworms? Symptoms of heartworms can be difficult to detect. There are no symptoms early on. It isn’t until after the fourth molt that any symptoms occur. Some symptoms a pet owner might notice include: ● Weight loss ● Lethargy ● Coughing The larvae arrive in the right ventricle of the heart and the surrounding blood vessels. Damage to the artery lining occurs within days. Inflammation occurs as the body tries to defend against the infection, but the worms work faster than the body. Blood clots and aneurisms can occur. As the disease progresses, blood vessels become blocked and fluid builds up, causing the dog or cat to cough. If left untreated, the animal will eventually collapse due to shock from the infection, and death follows in as little as one to two days. Can Heartworms Be Treated?

Treatment may be available, depending on how far the infection has progressed and how many worms have infected an animal. The treatment can be expensive, and it is not without side effects. How Can Heartworms Be Prevented? Good care is of the utmost importance. Annual testing is available and, if caught early, the condition may be reversed. However prevention is the best option. Medication given once a month kills the baby larvae before they can reach the maturity needed to cause damage. Make sure you groom your dog or cat regularly and check for any skin problems or wounds. Provide a nutritious diet using organic pet food like that marketed by Krisers, and give a pet heartworm medication every month for the rest of its life. Company Bio Kriser’s has been supplying all natural pet foods since 2001. Brad Kriser discovered what he could do for the overall well-being of the pets he was caring for in his pet day care. The pet food became so popular with pet owners who appreciated the difference it made in their pets’ lives, that Brad Kriser opened a store dedicated to supplies and all-natural pet foods. He now has 22 locations in three states.

Preventing and Detecting Heartworms in a Dog or Cat | Heartworms are parasites that infect dogs, cats and other animals. Left untreated, they can cause severe damage in...

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