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The Deadly Consequences of Heartworm Infestation

Some of the gravest threats to your pet's health are also among the most preventable. This is certainly true of heartworm, a serious parasitic infestation of the cardiopulmonary system that often kills dogs and cats after seriously damaging their quality of life. The good news is that preventative medications can keep this deadly worm away from your beloved companion's heart and lungs -- and here at Glen Park Animal Hospital, our veterinarian in Gary IN, Dr. Larson, can make sure your pet has access to this important form of protection.

Heartworms can grow up to a foot in length, but they don't actually enter your pet's body in their mature form. nor are they transferred from pet to pet, at least not directly. Instead, a mosquito takes blood from an infected animal -- blood which contains the larval form of the heartworm -- and then injects into its next victim through its bite. The larvae take several months to mature into adult worms within your pet's heart and lung tissues. Some dogs can play host to hundreds of adult worms over the several years of the worms' lifespan. Eventually, the worms overwhelm the heart, interfering with cardiopulmonary function. Dogs and cats may grow progressively more listless, thin and uninterested in food; they may also cough a lot and display breathing problems. Some cats also experience abdominal swelling, vomiting and seizures. Eventually the heart and lungs simply cease to sustain your pet's life.

Our Veterinarian in Gary IN Can Protect Your Pet from Heartworm

As disturbing as the disease undoubtedly is, treating heartworm can be almost as unsettling a proposition. Cats cannot really be treated effectively at all, because the act of expelling the killed worms can set off a deadly case of toxic shock. Dogs can be treated, the process takes an extended period of time involving two separate medicines, one for the adult worms and one for heartworm larvae. Advanced, severe heartworm cases may only be treatable by heart surgery to remove the worms. 

For all of these reasons, our veterinarian in Gary, IN emphasizes prevention as by far the easiest and smartest way to deal with these parasites. Modern veterinary medicine offers many kinds of preventative medications, most of which need to be taken every month without fail. One of the nicest things about some heartworm medicines is the fact that they also protect pets against other intruders such as fleas, roundworms, hookworms, ear mites and/or lice, depending on which product you choose.

Some heartworm medication such as TriHeart Plus is chewable tablets, while others such as Advantage Multi are topical applications. Some heartworm medications are available to both dogs and cats; others only work on dogs. We can explain the various options and help you select the medication that makes the most sense for your pet. Call our veterinarian in Gary, IN at 219-980-4944 to arrange for heartworm prevention today!

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I have been bringing all of my dogs to Glen Park Animal Hospital for the past 20 years and have found their service to be excellent! I am a nurse and have found that the care, competency and compassion that the entire staff gives to the animals is as good as (and in some instances even better than) the "human doctors/hospitals"!! Dr. Larson explains everything and does good follow-up with my "fur-babies". You can tell that the entire staff loves their job!
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Carol S.
Gary, IN

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