Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) disease
According to the FDA, “Heartworm disease is a serious disease that results in severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and death in pets, mainly dogs, cats, and ferrets. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. The worms are spread through the bite of a mosquito. The dog is the definitive host, meaning that the worms mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring while living inside a dog. The mosquito is the intermediate host, meaning that the worms live inside a mosquito for a short transition period in order to become infective (able to cause heartworm disease). The worms are called “heartworms” because the adults live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of an infected animal. ”
In Indiana, Heartworm disease is a major problem. It is our goal to increase education and compliance with heartworm preventative. There are several options to protect your pet, but we recommend monthly Heartgard Plus or the Proheart injection every 6 months.
Oral preventatives must be given on the same day of each month in order to effectively prevent adult infection. Even one day late can render your pet susceptible to adult infection. Unfortunately, we can only detect infection after 6 months, so it is vital that your pet stay on prevention all year long – no skipping the winter months!
Roundworms are intestinal parasites that are spread by fecal-oral contamination and can cause gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Hookworms are intestinal parasites that are spread by fecal-oral contamination, skin penetration, or trans-mammary and can cause severe anemia (which can lead to death), in addition to gastrointestinal issues.
Whipworms are intestinal parasites that are spread by fecal-oral contamination only and can cause bloody diarrhea, weight loss, dehydration, anemia, and death. Whipworm infections can take up to 3 months to show on a fecal test which makes re-infection likely and difficult to detect.
Giardiasis is commonly misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed because of intermittent shedding and difficulty identifying the life stages. Dogs may not show signs of disease. Asymptomatic animals that have fecal test results positive for Giardia may not require treatment. In certain situations (multiple pet households, households with small children, etc…), treatment may be indicated regardless because of the zoonotic and contagious potential. Retesting should be done 24-48 hours after treatment is completed, however, failure to eliminate the infection may not require treatment if pet is asymptomatic.
We recommend testing all dogs and cats twice a year and puppies and kittens four times in the first year of life. We recommend routine deworming of adult dogs and cats twice a year unless they are on monthly prevention (Heartgard Plus for Dogs and Revolution for Cats) and four times in the first year of life for puppies and kittens unless on monthly prevention. Additional medications may be necessary for Giardia and Whipworm infections. All parasite elimination protocols consist of the proper medication at the right dose, removal of feces daily, bathing of the affected animal, and environmental decontamination.