Manhattan Beach Veterinarian – Heartworm Prevention & Treatment

Complete Heartworm Prevention & Treatment for Cats & Dogs Manhattan Beach Vets

veterinarian heartworm

What are Heartworms? Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Hawthorne, Torrance Vets

Heartworms are parasites that, as their name suggests, are associated with the heart. They are most commonly seen in dogs, although they are able to infect a number of other species, including cats and people. They are transmitted by mosquitoes and live within the blood vessels and heart of the infected individual. In their smallest form as larvae, they are microscopic, which is what gives them the ability to be transported from one dog to another through the bites of mosquitoes. Through a series of molts they reach their largest size, approximately a foot in length, which is the point at which they cause the most damage. They are exceptionally hardy, and can survive in a dog for up to 7 years.

What is Heartworm Disease? Is It Serious? Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach

Heartworm disease is one or more symptoms that result from the heartworms living inside an infected pet.  In its simplest form, the sheer size and number of the worms are able to block the pathway of blood through the heart and vessels. In other cases, a smaller presence of heartworms, even though not obstructing the blood flow, induces inflammation to the blood vessels or the lining of the heart over a long period of time. With either condition or in combination, the net result is poor blood oxygenation and reduced tissue perfusion that mimics heart failure.  There may also be evidence of damage to the liver or kidneys, but these symptoms are usually dwarfed by the failure exhibited by the heart, vessels and lungs.

How Do I Know if My Dog or Cat Has Heartworms? Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Hawthorne, Torrance

Heartworm offspring can be detected in the blood of a cat or dog by a veterinarian about six to seven months after the infective larvae from the mosquito enter the pet. There are 2 types of tests used to identify the presence of heartworms. Most commonly used is the test that looks for proteins released by the heartworms (or in the case for cats, the protein the worms elicit from the body). The other test screens for the microscopic baby heartworms (larvae) that may or may not be found in the presence of an active infection. Both tests may be necessary or recommended, depending on the health status of the pet and where it has or is currently residing.

Can Heartworm Disease be Treated or Prevented?Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Hawthorne, Torrance Veterinarian

Although California has traditionally not been a state with heartworm disease cases, the numbers have increased over recent decades. In addition, it does have the potential to be a year-round disease. While treatment of canine heartworm disease is usually successful, prevention of the disease is obviously safer, cheaper and less painful for your dog. And for cats at risk for infection, prevention is even more important, as there is not any effective treatment to eliminate the heartworms from the body (short of higher-risk surgery), and only small interventions to reduce the symptoms are possible.  For that reason, the best treatment for your pet is participation in a complete, year-round, parasite-control program.

Our veterinarians offer a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection, which include monthly tablets/chewables and monthly topicals. While a number of heartworm prevention treatments are available “over the counter”, online and in pet stores, only an experienced vet has the knowledge to recommend and administer the best treatment for your pet based on species, weight, age, risk levels and other factors.

Additionally, before starting a preventive program, all dogs that could possibly be infected with mature heartworms should be tested by a veterinarian first. The course of treatment and prevention will differ in a pet that is already infected.

Heartworm Prevention

Our veterinarians can recommend a variety of treatment products to prevent heartworm infection in your pet. These heartworm prevention products are highly effective. Heartworm infection can be prevented almost 100% of the time, when prevention treatments are administered properly and on a regular maintenance schedule. If your pet is not up to date on their heartworm prevention medication, please schedule an appointment to have a prevention treatment prescribed by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Heartworm Treatment

For a dog that has been diagnosed with heartworm infection or disease, the most important step is to remove the adult heartworms from the circulation as soon as possible. Although sometimes the pet’s immune response eradicates the heartworm, this usually takes too long to prevent chronic and debilitating changes to the body. A combination of products (antibiotics, arsenicals, and larvacidals) is used to help weaken and then kill the adult worms and the heartworm larvae, using a schedule that takes into account the severity of the infection. On some occasions, a dog with a large number of heartworms in the heart and vein may be worsening so rapidly, that surgical removal of the worms, although risky, is necessary to prevent the patient’s death.

If you suspect that your pet has unfortunately already been infected by heartworm, we can perform the necessary tests and treatments to eradicate the heartworms from your animal. Lethargy (lack of energy), and shortness of breath are just a few of the most common symptoms of heartworm infection. If you are concerned about these – or any – changes in your pet’s behavior, please schedule an appointment to have them examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

If you would like to schedule heartworm treatment or prevention, CLICK HERE, or call our Manhattan Beach veterinarians: 310-536-9654


          Monday - Friday
        7:30 am - 6:00 pm
 (Closed Thur. 1 pm - 3 pm)
        8:00 am - 2:00 pm


 2705 N. Sepulveda Boulevard
  Manhattan Beach, CA 90266



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