Ontario Veterinarian Encourages Heartworm and Tick Treatments

| Source: Firth Veterinary Hospital

LONDON, Ontario, April 9, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A London, ON veterinarian is urging pet owners to take heartworm and tick treatments seriously. Heartworm infestations are one of the major causes for diseases in dogs in North America. Dr. Peter Firth of Firth Veterinary Hospital warns that pets that are kept outdoors are at greatest risk for the disease.

Heartworm is contracted more frequently during the warm summer months when the Dirofilaria immitis parasite is transmitted to the animal through mosquito bites, advises Dr. Firth. Still, he recommends that all domesticated dogs and cats should be routinely tested by a veterinarian, even if they are rarely outdoors or the weather is cool.

The heartworm parasite thrives in the hearts and major blood vessels of the lungs. During the earliest manifestations of heartworm disease few visible symptoms, if any, can be detected. As the disease progresses, a mild cough typically develops that increases in severity over time. Clinical signs of heartworm disease depend on the number of worms that exist, the animal's lifestyle, and any pre-existing health issues that the pet may have. Infected animals may seem lethargic after exercise, or may refuse to exercise at all. In the more advanced stages of heartworm disease, pets usually display difficulty in breathing and may go unconscious at times.

Early detection of heartworm disease is made possible by the use of blood tests, ultrasound, or radiographs, says Dr. Firth. The London veterinarian explains that a positive antigen or microfilaria test indicates that the animal has adult heartworms in the arteries of the lungs and in the heart. Heartworm can be treated with injectable drugs known as adulticides. The drug, which is injected into the animal's muscle, has a high rate of success in dogs.

The professionals at Firth Veterinary Hospital recommend heartworm prevention as the first step in keeping your pet healthy. The London, ON animal hospital stresses preventative care for both heartworms and ticks. Dr. Firth adds, "Heartworm disease can be treated successfully in many pets, but preventing the disease is always the best case scenario." The doctor recommends routine screenings with blood tests each spring, or just prior to placing an animal on a new prescription for a heartworm preventive medication.

Firth Veterinary Hospital often administer heartworm prevention medication in the form of a chewable pill, administered once per month, which is available by prescription. If a puppy is under the age of 6 months, the medication can be given without the blood test. However, dogs over the age of 6 months must be screened for heartworm disease before the medication is started. Many of these medications also serve the dual purpose of preventing other types of intestinal parasites.

Firth Veterinary Hospital provides a variety of veterinary services, including pet surgery, vaccinations, wellness care, and pet dental care.

Firth Veterinary Hospital