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Remember to Take Preventative Steps Against Heartworms

April is National Heartworm Awareness Month and the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association asks all dog and cat owners to visit their WVMA member veterinarian to have their pets tested and make sure they are protected.

“Heartworms can be life threatening for your pet,” says Dr. K.C. Brooks, president of the WVMA. “By meeting with your veterinarian and discussing the best preventative options, you can help to ensure they live a long and healthy life.”

Dogs and cats become infected with heartworms after being bitten by an infected mosquito. With the weather warming, this is the time to take preventive steps. Heartworm preventatives are most effective when they are started before mosquitos are in full force.

There are no clinical signs of heartworm disease in the early stages, which is why it’s so important to test annually and continue preventive medications year-round. After a pet has been infected, symptoms range from subtle to obvious and may include coughing, weight loss and lethargy. If left untreated, kidney disease and heart failure will result.  

Treatment for infected animals can be difficult and carries some risks, which makes heartworm preventatives so important. With annual visits to the veterinarian heartworms shouldn’t be a worry for your pet.

There are a variety of medications available to help prevent heartworm disease in both dogs and cats. Options include chewable tablets, long lasting injections and topical medications. By meeting with your WVMA member veterinarian, together you will be able to decide which medication option is best for your pet.

If your pet is showing symptoms of heartworm disease or is in need of preventative, take immediate action. Contact your WVMA member veterinarian to learn more about the symptoms and the preventative options. To find a WVMA member veterinarian, go to www.wvma.org.

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