Hononegah Animal Hospital

Heartworm, Flea,

& Tick and Intestinal Parasites

At Hononegah Animal Hospital, we use treatment and preventative measures to help fight off heartworm, flea, and tick infections.

Heartworm, Fea, & Tick and Intestinal Parasites



Heartworms are spread through mosquito bites. Heartworms that reside inside the dog mature into adults, mate, and create progeny since the dog is a natural host for them. If left untreated, their numbers can grow to the point where dogs can have hundreds of worms in their bodies. Heartworm disease causes long-term damage to the heart, lungs, and arteries, and can have a negative impact on a dog’s health and quality of life even after the parasites have died. As a result, heartworm prevention for dogs is by far the best option, and treatment should be given as early as possible in the course of the disease.

Signs of Heartworm Disease in Dogs:

  • Slight chronic cough
  • Aversion to exercise
  • Weariness after moderate activity
  • Decreased appetite

As the heartworm condition continues, dogs may develop heart failure and a large belly from the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. Heartworm-infested dogs can experience a sudden obstruction of blood flow within the heart, which can result in a life-threatening form of cardiovascular collapse. An abrupt start of laborious breathing, pale gums, and dark crimson or coffee-colored urine characterizes caval syndrome. Few dogs survive if the heartworm blockage is not surgically removed as soon as possible.

Heartworm infection should be tested on all dogs once a year, and this can usually be done at a routine appointment for preventive care.



Heartworm disease in cats differs significantly from that in dogs. The cat is an unusual host for heartworms, because the majority of worms in cats do not reach adulthood. Adult heartworms in cats usually only have one to three worms, and many cats with heartworms have no adult worms. While this means that heartworm disease in cats is frequently undetected, it’s crucial to remember that even juvenile worms can cause serious problems in the form of heartworm-linked pulmonary disease (HARD). Furthermore, because the medication used to treat heartworm infections in dogs is ineffective in cats, prevention is the only way to protect cats against the disease’s symptoms.

Signs of Heartworm Disease in Cats:

  • Coughing
  • Asthma-like attacks
  • Intermittent vomiting
  • A loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Heartworm disease in cats can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from mild to catastrophic. Affected cats may have trouble walking, faint or have seizures, or develop fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Unfortunately, in some situations, the first indicator is a sudden collapse or death of the cat.

The combination of both an antigen and an antibody test (the “antibody” test detects exposure to heartworm larvae) is the preferred way for screening cats. To check for heartworm infection, our team may use x-rays or ultrasound. Before being put on preventive, cats should be tested, and then re-tested as needed by our veterinarians to document continuous exposure and risk. Heartworm infection in cats has no recognized therapy, thus prevention is essential.

Contact us to find out more about heartworm treatment for pets.

Fleas & Ticks

Fleas and ticks love the soft, warm fur of dogs and cats because it creates the ideal environment for them. Ticks feed on your pet’s blood and can cause a variety of health issues, from allergic reactions to deadly tick-borne diseases. Fleas and ticks are more abundant in the summer, but you can protect yourself from them at any time of year.

Flea Signs in Dogs:

  • Flea droppings (dark specks) in the fur
  • Flea eggs (white specks) in the fur
  • Excessive licking or scratching
  • Scabs or hot spots on the skin

Flea Signs in Cats:

A flea comb is the quickest technique to locate fleas on a cat (a special fine-toothed comb). Check the neck and the base of the tail in particular. You can also examine the stomach. Fleas, which appear as little dark dots that move, or their droppings, which resemble dirt specks, may be visible. Fleas may be eating your cat if you notice a lot of scratching and hair loss.

Ticks are visible and can be felt when you pet your cat or dog. They usually attach themselves to the head, neck, ears, or paws. They’re commonly found around the ears and eyes of cats. Ticks are known to spread illnesses.

If you have a suspicion of a flea or tick infection on your pet, you should attempt to get rid of it right away or come in to receive treatment.

Intestinal Parasites

Our pets are exposed to the microscopic eggs when they lick, sniff, or ingest them on the grass or lick them off their paws, for example. Most often you will see the adult parasites in your pet’s stools, but this solely depends on the type of parasite they have and the parasite burden. Most of the parasites are white but can vary in length (we typically think of the classic “spaghetti” which very few have this characteristic). The tapeworms can be the same, but the segments look “rice-like”. It is important to also note that tapeworms come from the ingestion of an adult flea or rodent, so flea prevention will also be key.

There are six main intestinal parasites:

  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Whipworms (dogs only)
  • Coccidia
  • Giardia

Some intestinal parasites can be given to humans as well! Many roundworm eggs can accumulate where dogs or cats defecate. People, especially children, who ingest such eggs can develop serious health problems, such as blindness. You can easily become infected if you are cleaning up after your pet and you do not wash your hands properly. Hookworm larvae can penetrate human skin and cause lesions. They can be given to people simply by walking around barefoot in your backyard or garden where the hookworm eggs are. And people can acquire tapeworms through the ingestion of an infected flea. Parasites in humans and pets are transmitted through fecal/oral contact. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and often if your pet is positive for intestinal parasites.

It is also important to check fecal samples a minimum of once per year, especially in your outdoor cats.