At Marcello Veterinary Hospital, we recommend annual testing for heartworms and a lifelong preventive treatment program for companion pets. Testing for the presence of heartworms is quick, easy, and economical, and preventive treatment is much more cost effective than medical care for an infected animal.
Heartworm disease is a life threatening condition that can affect outdoor and indoor pets. Spread by mosquitoes, heartworm larvae are transmitted to healthy animals by mosquitoes that have bitten infected animals. This disease can result in heart failure, severe lung disease, damage to other organs, and death. It can be avoided, simply and cost efficiently through annual testing and preventative treatments that we provide at Marcello Veterinary Hospital.
We recommend starting puppies and kittens on heartworm prevention no later than eight weeks of age. Dogs six months and older are required to be tested for heartworms before starting them on any regular heartworm prevention. We check for the presence of heartworm infection by collecting a small blood sample from your pet and using a SNAP test.
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. Thereafter, a heartworm test should be scheduled annually to ensure your pet remains heartworm free. Any gap in coverage may require another heartworm test prior to restarting on a preventative. These preventive medications come in several forms, including topical applications, 6-month injectables, and once a month oral treatments.
If your dog's test results come back positive, then we will offer treatment to potentially clear your dog of heartworm disease, however, it is a lengthy and costly process. 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. When your cat receives a Feline Leukemia Virus/Feline Immunodeficiency Virus/Heartworm antigen combination test, he or she will be tested for heartworms. If your cat tests positive for heartworms, he or she can be helped with good veterinary care and a long-term management plan.
Because south Louisiana is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, pet owners need to protect their pets year round with preventive heartworm treatment and annual testing. Schedule a heartworm test today if you are in the nearby areas of Houma, Thibodaux, Morgan City, Raceland, or Mathews.