It is National Heartworm Awareness Month! Our team always gets fired up in April because heartworms cause such significant disease in our pets. There is a lot of important information about heartworm disease that is about to come your way.
As long as Houston is breeding ground for mosquitoes, heartworm disease will always be a threat to our pets.
- Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. Any mosquito can be harboring immature heartworms (microfilaria), and all it takes is one bite.
- Once in the bloodstream, the microfilaria travel to the heart where they mature into adult worms 10-12 inches long). In dogs, they can live 5-7 years.
- Symptoms can range from no symptoms to symptoms of a cough, exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing, fainting, fluid in the abdomen or death.
- Cats try to fight off the infection, the result is a condition called HARD (Heartworm Associate Respiratory Disease) and is caused by the microfilaria dying off as the cat tries to fight off the infection.
- Symptoms in cats can have a wide range and can be anything from collapse, convulsions, diarrhea/vomiting, blindness, coughing, weight loss, or death. Like dogs, they might not show any symptoms at all.
Additional information on heartworm disease can be found here:
- Did you know that in addition to dogs and cats, ferrets are susceptible to heartworm disease?
- Indoor pets are susceptible to heartworm infection. Houses aren’t mosquito-tight. Once inside, a couple of ways mosquitos search for a meal is by heat and carbon dioxide. Since your pet’s temperature can average 100.5-102.5, it is like a beacon on a desert island.
- There is no treatment for heartworm disease in cats. Testing can be difficult due to the low worm burden that they can have.
The heartworm preventatives that are out today are very effective. Heartworm disease is preventable.
At our clinic we carry Trifexis which is an oral medication that prevents against heartworms, fleas and a couple of intestinal parasites. If you have any trouble remembering to give your heartworm prevention, ProHeart is a 6 month injectable medication that prevents against heartworm disease. Revolution is the product of choice for cats and ferrets.