Many American households have one or more family pets. While estimates vary, it appears that households throughout the country have between 70 to 80 million dogs and 74 to 96 million cats. While many of these beloved pets may not develop an illness, a large percentage will. One of the more common and unfortunate illnesses that can affect both cats and dogs is heartworm disease.
How the Severity of Heartworm Disease Is Determined
The number of worms that can make a cat or dog ill will vary. When a dog is infected, for example, they may already have at least 30 worms in their heart and lungs. While a cat may only have one or two worms once infected, they could have up to six. It’s important to note that the number of worms will determine the severity of the disease with a dog. Cats, on the other hand, will be very ill even when they just have one or two worms.
Heartworm Prevention for Puppies
Every year, approximately one million dogs test positive for heartworm disease. This is one of the reasons why taking preventative measures is essential. The cost of monthly preventative medicine is considerably less than heartworm treatment. While treatment costs do vary, they can be as much as $1,000.00.
When puppies are less than seven months old, they can begin taking heartworm prevention medicine. At this time, veterinarians don’t administer a heartworm test because it will take a minimum of six months to test positive after being infected. After a puppy seven months or younger visits the veterinarian for the first time, they should be tested for heartworm disease in six months. It is also recommended that puppies should be tested again in another six months and then once a year. This is the only way to determine that they are free from heartworms.
Sending Tests to a Clinical Diagnostics Laboratory
Once a heartworm test is taken, it will be sent to a clinical diagnostics laboratory for analysis. In addition to testing for heartworm and other diseases, a clinical diagnostics laboratory can provide food safety testing. If someone suspects that their pet food is tainted or poisoned, this can be determined through analysis. A clinical diagnostic laboratory can also provide other valuable veterinary laboratory services.
The Importance of Regular Visits to the Veterinarian
Since you love your pets, you do everything possible to make sure that they’re healthy and happy. There’s a good chance that you also give them Christmas gifts. A PetFinder.com poll found that 58% of the people that have cats in their family, along with 63% with dogs, gave gifts to them during this holiday. Whether you have one or more dogs, cats, or a combination of both, you know how important it is for them to have regular veterinary check-ups. Taking your pets to the veterinarian at the first sign of an illness or concern is a gift that will keep on giving.