Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets.  It is transmitted by infected mosquitoes, and because mosquitoes can come indoors, both indoor and outdoor pets are at risk.

Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats, ferrets, wolves, coyotes, foxes and other mammals.  It has been diagnosed in all 50 states, however, the disease is more prevalent in southern states because of the warm climates.

The mosquito bites an infected animal, then it injects the heartworm microfilaria into your pet.  The worms grow to about a foot long and live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of your dog or cat.  The worms cause severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs.  While treatment is available, it is time consuming, expensive and not without complications.  Heartworm disease can cause irreversible changes in your pet that cannot be fully corrected.  Dead worms and fragments of dead worms remain in the lungs for the remainder of your pet’s life.

Dogs are a natural host for heartworms, which means that they live inside the dog, mature into adults, mate and produce offspring.  If untreated, their numbers can continue to increase, sometimes to the hundreds.

Cats can also have heartworm disease but typically have just one to three worms.  However, even immature worms in the cat can cause respiratory disease and other problems.

Prevention is the key to controlling this disease.  The American Heartworm Society recommends that you “Think 12” – (1) get your pet tested for heartworms every 12 months and (2) give your pet heartworm preventive 12 months a year.

Please call us if you would like more information about preventing heartworm disease.  We care about your pets!

Have a wonderful September!

Dr. Bonnie