Heartworm Testing

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Heartworm Testing

Heartworm disease is a serious, life threatening condition that can potentially affect outdoor and indoor companion pets. The disease is spread by mosquitoes that have bitten infected animals and then pass the heartworm larvae to healthy animals by biting them. Heartworm disease can be avoided, simply and cost effectively through annual testing and preventative treatments that we provide at Handsboro Animal Hospital.

Heartworms exist in all 50 states, but they are most prevalent in warm climates with stable bodies of water. This means that pet owners in Gulfport and other Gulf Coast communities as well as those in Saucier and Wiggins need to protect their pets year-round with preventive heartworm treatment.

At Handsboro Animal Hospital, we recommend scheduling an annual test to ensure your pet is heartworm free. If your dog’s test results come back negative, then our veterinarians will start him or her on a preventive treatment that you will need to administer year-round for the rest of the animal’s life. These preventive medications come in several forms, including topical applications, injectables, pills, and tasty treats.

If your dog tests positive, there is a treatment for it, however it is a lengthy and costly one. Your pet will need to be kept calm for 30 days in order to avoid putting stress on the heart and lungs.

Cats should be put on a preventive treatment and tested as recommended by our veterinarians. Cats are not a natural host for heartworms however, just a few can make a cat very ill. Prevention in cats is critical because there is no approved drug treatment for heartworm infection in cats. If your cat tests positive for heartworms, he or she can be helped with good veterinary care and a long-term management plan.

If your pet is not protected by a preventive treatment program, heartworms can eventually affect your pet's cardiovascular health. There are few, if any, early signs of heartworm disease in dogs and cats. In the case of untreated dogs, once the heartworms become established, they will eventually experience difficulty breathing and decreased physical activity.

If you haven’t had your companion pet tested for heartworms, schedule an appointment today at Handsboro Animal Hospital. Our doctors and staff will work with you to determine the best heartworm preventative based on your pet’s individual lifestyle.