Three Things You Need to Know About Heartworms

Heartworm disease—a common and deadly disease in pets—is not just a summer threat.

With numerous factors in play, prevention is the best way for pets to be protected. The American Heartworm Society recommends testing for heartworm each year and encourages year-round prevention.

“Unfortunately for our pets, mosquitoes are hardy and have proven their ability to survive year-round across the United States,” says American Heartworm Society president Wallace Graham DVM. “Warm microclimates, both outdoors and indoors, can foster mosquito survival and pets can facilitate the spread of heartworm.” Pets can also contract heartworms when their owners transport them from one area of the country to another.

 If you are a pet owner, here are additional facts you should know about heartworm disease:

  • Heartworm is everywhere.  According to a nationwide survey of more than 5,000 veterinary hospitals conducted by AHS in 2010, heartworm was confirmed in all 50 states.
  • Cats get heartworm disease, too.  Dogs are more susceptible than cats, but cats can become seriously ill from just a few worms. The bottom line: if you live in an area where heartworm disease in dogs is present, your cat should get preventive medication, too.
  • Treatment is not a “fallback.” While heartworm disease in dogs can usually be treated, veterinarians have limited medication supplies, the treatment carries risks (careful monitoring and cage confinement are required for a month or more) and treatment can be costly.

Additionally, there is no effective medication for treating cats with heartworm disease. For more information, owners should talk to their veterinarian or click here.

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