Heartworm Prevention and Treatment

Heartworm Disease: What You Need to Know

Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats, and other animal species. The heartworm parasite makes its home in the major blood vessels of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver thus weakening and destroying these vital organs. Thankfully, this deadly disease is easily preventable, and curable if caught early. Santa Fe Animal Hospital offers you the best veterinary services in Lakeland and will provide your pet with the most comprehensive heartworm treatment in the area.

Dog getting checked up for heartworms

Mosquitoes that are infected usually pass on the Dirofilaria immitis parasite via mosquito bites as larvae. In about 40-60 days, they travel up the bloodstreams where they settle, thrive and multiply as adults. Their large numbers cause the consequent shutdown of the organ they settle in, the heart for instance. It will be difficult to determine if your pet has fallen victim to this infestation, as the first signs are not easily detected up to a year since infection. The Veterinarians at Santa Fe Animal Hospital can provide quality preventative care for heartworms.


Dogs usually begin to exhibit symptoms such as coughing, lack of appetite and consequent weight loss, and overall lethargy. Cats usually develop symptoms later than dogs. The larva takes an additional month longer to grow into adults, and with the parasites attacking the respiratory organs more often as opposed to the heart. A cat will vomit, lose its appetite and weight, have fainting spells, and suffer seizures.

As these symptoms might be indicative of certain other conditions, a series of tests are done to prove infection. This is where our veterinary assessment comes into play. We will order a blood sample, and place it under the microscope to determine the stage that the larva is at. Our vet will back up the findings with urinalysis, X-rays, ultrasound and a blood cell count.

Heartworm treatment is dependent on the severity of the infection. If detected early, it will be far easier to treat, cost less, and have a higher chance of a better outcome. Late treatment may result in complications and possible death from irreversible damage done to affected organs. Prevention is indeed better than cure.

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A monthly or bi-yearly dose of preventive medication, along with eliminated exposure to mosquitoes will go a long way in prevention of heartworm disease. Call us at (863) 665-5033 to schedule an appointment or visit Santa Fe Animal Hospital today for Lakeland’s most comprehensive heartworm treatment.