Santa Fe Animal Hospital

Heartworm Prevention and Treatment

Heartworm Prevention and Treatment

Heartworm Disease: What You Need to Know

Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats, and other animal species and is very prevalent in our area of the country. The heartworm parasite is carried from pet to pet via mosquito bites, then makes its home in the major blood vessels of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver. Eventually, it can weaken and destroy these vital organs.

Most pets don’t show symptoms of heartworm disease until it is quite advanced, and while treatment is available for dogs, it can be costly and hard on your pet. Thankfully, heartworm disease is easily prevented with a variety of effective heartworm preventive medications.


Once an infection is advanced, dogs usually begin to exhibit symptoms such as coughing, lack of appetite and consequent weight loss, and overall lethargy. Cats tend to develop symptoms later than dogs, as heartworm larvae take an additional month longer to grow into adults, and attack the respiratory organs 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 confirm a heartworm diagnosis. We will order a blood sample, and place it under the microscope to determine the larval stage. 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 the Best Treatment!

Year-round preventive heartworm medication is a must in our state. We carry a variety of products and our veterinarians can help you choose the one that is right for your pet and your budget. Call us at (863) 665-5033 to schedule an appointment or visit Santa Fe Animal Hospital today for Lakeland’s most comprehensive heartworm prevention and treatment.

We will be re-opening on Tuesday, March 1st!

Please note the updated process below:

  • One person per pet will be allowed in the building. We ask that you continue to check in by phone at (863) 665-5033 when you arrive for your pet’s appointment, then wait for a team member to come out and escort you and your pet into the building. 
  • We do request that you wear a mask when in the building.
  • Please social distance as best as possible when in the hospital. 
  • Our waiting room will be open with socially distanced seating. 
  • When in the waiting room, a staff member will discuss your pet’s history and take note of any issues you would like the doctor to examine.
  • Due to the exam rooms being small, a staff member will then escort your pet to the exam room, while you continue to wait in the waiting room. 
  • After the examination, you will be brought into the exam room to discuss the findings and treatment plan with the doctor. 
  • If you are sick, especially with flu-like symptoms, or have been in contact with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19, we do ask that you find a friend or family member to bring your pet to their appointment. 
  • Our curbside service will no longer be a required part of our COVID-19 protocol; however, if you prefer to take advantage of this service, just let us know when you arrive.
  • In order to reduce traffic flow inside the clinic, food and medicine pick up will still remain curbside.

We know this has been a long and trying year for everyone, and we sincerely appreciate how understanding our clients have been with the necessary restrictions and changes. 

Thank you for continuing to trust us with your pet’s health!
The Santa Fe Animal Hospital Team