Heartworm disease is an illness potentially fatal to cats, dogs, and other mammals. However, it is almost 100 percent preventable. In fact, we recommend heartworm prevention as an essential step in your pet’s wellness program.
What is Heartworm Disease?
This illness is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquitoes. Heartworm disease is a problem in every state, but the risk is particularly high during the summer months in areas with clearly defined seasons. In warm regions like El Paso, it may be a problem all year.
Once larvae enter a pet via a mosquito bite, it takes around six months for them to become adult heartworms. Parasitic worms reside in the arteries of the lungs, ultimately making their way to the heart of your pet if the condition goes untreated. Indoor pets still face exposure if they go outside even occasionally. Mosquitoes can enter a home on your clothing or shoes, or through holes in screens or doors left open for only an instant.
Canine Heartworm Disease
Heartworms can live up to seven years in dogs. If your dog is infected, we will follow a specific protocol to rid him of the worms. Sometimes it is necessary to use additional medications to control the dog’s reactions as the worms die and break down. Severe cases of canine heartworm disease can require removing worms surgically.
Heartworm Disease in Cats
There is no FDA-approved treatment for feline heartworm infection or disease. Fortunately, as hosts to the worms, cats in general are more resistant than dogs. Many are able to get rid of the infection spontaneously. However, they sometimes experience life-threatening reactions to the dead worms as the body clears them.
Our animal hospital considers heartworm prevention critical. It can help you and your pet avoid advanced and costly medical care. Our veterinarian will recommend the best method for protecting your pet, based on his lifestyle and risk factors. A monthly preventive medication or an injection that can provide six months of prevention is the key to keeping your pet healthy and happy.
What questions do you have about preventing heartworm disease in your pet?