Heartworm Treatment with our Portland Veterinarian
Some diseases and disorders are not as alarming as their names might suggest, while others are more so -- but heartworm is one of those health conditions that is just as awful as it sounds. This parasitic infestation can cause long, thin worms to inhabit your pet's heart and lungs, causing chronic (and sometimes acute) health problems. To make matters worse, the infestation can prove difficult to treat. But you'll be relieved to know that here at Peninsula Dog & Cat Clinic, our skilled veterinary team can indeed provide successful heartworm treatment in many cases, as well as preventative care to prevent infestations from occurring in the first place.
The Heartbreak of Heartworm
A heartworm infestation in a dog or cat begins with a mosquito bite. The bite introduces heartworm larvae into the bloodstream, which offers a straight path to the heart and lungs. The worms grow to adulthood in these organs, potentially living for several years (at least in dogs). Dogs and cats are affected somewhat differently by heartworm. The infestation may grow slowly in dogs, gradually producing chronic symptoms such as shortness of breath, lack of stamina, weight loss and coughing. Eventually, the heart and lungs can fail altogether, causing death. While the worms don't live very long or in great numbers in cats, they can cause even more severe reactions, including acute inflammation and lung clots triggered by the death of the worms.
Treatment and Prevention Options From Your Portland Veterinarian
Either Portland veterinarian on our team, Dr. DeRemer or Dr. Karben, has the necessary skill and experience to identify a heartworm infestation and recommend the appropriate treatment measures. For cats, the treatment options are extremely limited because anything that kills the worms may set off life-threatening toxic reactions. If your cat has only a few worms and is not exhibiting significant symptoms, we may simply monitor his condition closely over the next 2 to 3 years (the average lifespan of a heartworm) to see if the worms will pass without causing complications. A severe infestation can only be treated by surgically removing the worms.
Heartworm in dogs can be treated with medications, but the process is not an easy one. We must first put your dog on a course of heartworm preventatives, drugs that kill heartworm larvae. Once the larvae are dead, we can then administer the treatment that kills the adult worms. At the same time, we give your dog antibiotics and steroid medications to ward off toxic reactions to the death of the worms. The treatment regimen can take several weeks.
Schedule an Evaluation for Your Dog or Cat
Obviously, the smartest option of all is to prevent your pet from the ravages of heartworm. We can check your pet for heartworm and put him on preventative medications during a routine wellness exam. Call Peninsula Dog & Cat Clinic at 503-285-7661 to schedule this important form of care!