Did You Know Over One Million Dogs Get Heartworm Every Year? What You Should Know
Do you own a cat or a dog? How about a horse or a goat? Domesticated pets are one of the hallmarks of human ingenuity, allowing us to cultivate everything from a reliable food source to a beloved companion for the whole family. Your average clinical diagnostics laboratory and contract lab services work night and day to diagnose common problems in domesticated animals of all types and keep them healthy and fit no matter the season. While you can certainly keep your pets in tip-top shape through a mixture of consistent exercise and a proper diet, some illnesses and viruses can be passed through casual contact or parasites almost unseen. Let’s take a look at the more common pets, frequent health issues and what you can do if you suspect your furry friend has become sick.
What are the most common pets you can think of? Cats and dogs have enjoyed widespread popularity for hundreds of years, least of all for their social compatibility, cleanliness and emotional health benefits. A PetFinder.com poll even found half of all dog and cat owners giving their pets presents on Christmas. It’s estimated there are millions of dogs and cats in the United States alone, which is nothing to say of the rest of the world and the hundreds of breeds that have been cultivated over the years. Recent surveys have rounded out 80 million dogs and over 90 million cats, particularly in urban areas, though there are many other domesticated animals that still enjoy a lot of attention.
Less common but no less beloved, some prefer to own horses or goats in lieu of the more popular cats, dogs and birds. Over two million people own horses in the United States, some for breeding purposes and others for recreational riding and competition. The majority of horses have been found to be inapparent carriers — this means they generally don’t show obvious signs of having been infected, with low rates of infection overall. It’s estimated only one horsefly out of six million will pick up and transmit a virulent disease such as EIAV. Short for ‘equine infectious anemia virus’, this can cause feverish episodes and can become deadly over the course of two to three weeks if left untreated.
Frequent Health Issues
There are many health issues that can strike at any time, even in spite of an owner’s best efforts to keep their companions healthy, well-fed and emotionally stable. A heartworm antigen test may be required to locate the presence of heartworms, which can cause internal bleeding, lethargy and even death if untreated. Certain dog and cat breeds are prone to bone issues and hip problems passed down the genetic line, so being aware is essential toward pinpointing problems down the road. Food safety, heartworm antigen tests and frequent vaccinations are key toward keeping your pet healthy. Over one million dogs are infected with a heartworm disease every year, so preventative measures and consistent veterinarian visits are essential.
Veterinary Laboratory Services
If you suspect your cat, dog or horse has become sick then you need to contact your local veterinary laboratory and ask for a series of tests. Infected dogs can have 30 or more worms in their heart and lungs, while cats generally have no more than six — even one or two in some occasions. A heartworm antigen test can be conducted to determine the type of heartworm and the necessary measures to eliminate it and prevent future infection rates. Puppies and kittens under seven months of age should be started on heartworm prevention measures, without the need of a heartworm antigen test, and later given yearly visits to ensure consistent health. With a little forethought and care, keeping your dog, cat or horse healthy is a more than possible endeavor.