April 7, 2021
Heartworm Disease: What is it and how does it affect my pets?
Even though heartworm disease is dangerous and life-threatening, it's completely preventable. Check out this month's blog post to learn more about the disease and important steps to take to prevent it from harming your pets.
What are the signs of heartworm? How do I know if my dog or cat has heartworms?
Signs of heartworm disease are often subtle and very similar to signs seen in pets with congestive heart failure. Early signs include exercise intolerance, occasional cough (often moist), and panting even when it’s not hot.
Do dogs and cats really need heartworm pills?
Dogs and cats need to be on a heartworm preventative in order to prevent heartworm disease. Dogs have the option of either taking a pill every 30 days, having drops placed on the back of their neck every 30 days, or receiving an injection from their veterinarian that will last either 6 or 12 months at a time. Cats need to be given either a pill every 30 days or have drops placed on the back of their neck every 30 days.
How long can a cat or dog go without heartworm pills?
Heartworms have a very complicated life cycle, and heartworm prevention is only effective against one stage of development of the adult heartworm. If you lapse in your preventative measures, you run the risk of missing the susceptible stage when giving your pet the preventative; this means they could still develop heartworm disease even though they were given a preventative. That is why any time there is a lapse in coverage, your veterinarian will require another heartworm test prior to restarting preventative.
When should my dog or cat be tested?
Your pet should be tested annually for heartworms once they reach greater than 6 months of age.
Can dogs and cats fully recover from heartworms?
Dogs and cats can fully recover in that many of them will have no outward clinical signs of the disease. However, the adult worms cause enough damage to the blood vessels between the heart and lungs that is permanent, and the vessels will never function as well as they once did.
Is heartworm disease contagious? How is it transmitted from one pet to another?
Heartworm disease is also referred to as vector-born disease. This means that it is spread from animal to animal through an intermediary host or vector. The vector in the case of heartworms is the mosquito. For example, if my dog has heartworm disease and gets bitten by a mosquito, he will infect that mosquito. That mosquito can then go bite your dog and give your dog heartworm disease, but my dog can not directly give heartworms to your dog