Not for the Faint of Heart: Heartworm Disease and Prevention

heartworm preventionHeartworm disease has long been a known problem that affects dogs, and recently it is becoming apparent that cats are infected with heartworm more frequently than originally thought. In fact, it has been reported that up to 15% of cats in some areas are now testing positive for this disease.

In the U.S., heartworm disease was once limited to the south and southeast regions, but, for a number of reasons, it is now found in all 50 states. Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital thought it an opportune time to bring you the facts about heartworm prevention.

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Pet Immunization: Preventing the Spread of Disease and Keeping Your Pet Healthy

This past month we have observed National Pet Immunization Month – a month devoted to educating and raising awareness about the importance of immunizing our furry friends. Infectious and sometimes life-threatening illnesses like parvovirus and distemper can present serious risk to any unvaccinated pet, even if they primarily live indoors.

Diseases that used to be more prevalent, such as the fatal and zoonotic (meaning transmissible to humans) rabies virus, have significantly decreased in the number of cases since the vaccine became available and is required by law. There are many more illnesses, however, which have not diminished and can be serious and life-threatening if your pet catches them.

Read on to learn more about why pet immunization is so important to your pet’s health and also helps protect other pets and people.

Core Vaccines and Why They’re Necessary

Vaccines (or vaccinations) consist of antigens which resemble the disease(s) that are being vaccinated against, but do not actually cause the disease. This slight introduction of an invading organism causes the body’s immune defenses to “prepare to fight.” By introducing these antigens in minute doses, the immune system becomes better equipped to fight off the actual virus should the pet come into contact with it.

An example of why immunizing your pet is so necessary when preventing the spread of disease was the outbreak of the canine influenza virus in 2015. While canine flu isn’t as serious as parvo, the reason for the rapid spread of the illness was that it was a new virus and dogs hadn’t been vaccinated against it.

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