Heartworm Prevention

At Johnstown Veterinary Associates, our team combines compassion and experience to ensure and support your pet's health. Serving the Johnstown community, our animal hospital is dedicated to providing quality care and medical services for your pet. One of those services is heartworm prevention.


Understanding Heartworms

According to the FDA, dogs, cats, and ferrets are the main targets for heartworms. The parasitic worm causes damage to the heart, lungs, and other organs, which can lead to death when left untreated. When a mosquito bites an already infected animal, it becomes a carrier that then transmits the worm to other animals. Once your pet is bitten, the worm enters the pet's bloodstream. The worms mature into adulthood and begin to mate, producing baby worms known as microfilariae.

The worms will remain in the organs they have infected, growing to the point where they are considered infective larvae. Pets infected with heartworms are prone to experiencing organ damage, heart failure, and lung disease. When a heartworm infection is left unchecked or untreated, pets are put in a life-threatening situation.

Testing for Heartworms

There are several factors to consider when you have a pet that is susceptible to a heartworm infestation. Things to consider include:

  • For dogs and cats, 6- to 7-months old is recommended for testing.
  • If your pet is already on heartworm medication, the date the medication started determines when you should have your pet tested again. It is recommended to have your pet tested annually. Ask our veterinarian about establishing a testing schedule.
  • In the event you forget to give your pet its medication, schedule an appointment with our vet as soon as possible.
  • If you change your pet's heartworm medication from one type to another, it is best to have your pet retested to ensure the new medication is working properly.
  • When on vacation, if the area you've visited has a high frequency of heartworm issues, have your pet tested.

Heartworm Symptoms

Heartworm symptoms range from mild to severe. Things to watch for include:

  • An occasional cough.
  • Your pet appears tired after light activity.
  • Persistent coughing, difficulty breathing, a tired and sickly appearance.

If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms and has not been tested or is not on heartworm prevention medication, contact our hospital, so our veterinarian can do a thorough check and determine a treatment plan based on the state of the worm infestation.

Contact Our Animal Hospital Near You

Serving the Johnstown, PA community, our vet and dedicated staff at Johnstown Veterinary Associates want to ensure your pet receives quality medical care at all times. Our modern facilities and experienced staff, convenient online forms, and access to our online store are all designed for a stress-free visit to the vet.