A woman in a field with her German shepherd pupBy now, most of us are aware of the potential for disease that can occur from a mosquito bite. Mosquitos can transmit a host of dangerous infections to humans, and most of us do what we can to prevent ourselves from being bitten and heartworm prevention.

Even our pets are not immune to the dangers of mosquito-borne disease, but unlike us, they can’t stop themselves from being bitten. Because dangerous illnesses such as heartworm disease are transmitted via mosquito and affects dogs and cats in all 50 states, we pet owners need to take matters into our own hands when it comes to protecting our pets.

What Is Heartworm Disease?

This extremely serious, and sometimes fatal, mosquito borne illness is as scary as it sounds. Once an infected mosquito has bitten a pet, tiny worms called microfilariae, enter the bloodstream. Over a period of months to years, the worms invade the heart, lungs, and related blood vessels of an infected animal, and can grow up to a foot in length.

Many pets don’t show any signs of heartworm infection, which is why yearly heartworm testing is so important. If the disease is severe enough, symptoms may include:

  • Coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats, and ferrets, as well as many mammal species found in the wild such as wolves, coyotes, and foxes.

Heartworm And Cats

Unlike dogs, cats are not ideal hosts for the heartworm parasite. Although the worms won’t thrive in a cat’s body, the cat’s immune system typically responds aggressively to the presence of even one or two worms in the bloodstream.

Severe complications can develop for a cat infected with heartworms, including respiratory distress, blood clots in the lungs, lung inflammation and death.

There is currently no treatment on the market for heartworm disease in cats.

Make Heartworm Prevention A Priority For Your Pet

The good news is that heartworm is largely preventable! There are a variety of preventive options on the market, both in spot-on and oral form. If used correctly (every month of the year), heartworm preventive medications are 99.9% effective at preventing heartworm.

Year-round heartworm prevention is cheaper and easier on your pet than treating the disease. It’s easier on your pocketbook, too; in fact, it’s estimated that you can buy 7 years of heartworm preventative for the cost of treating it once.

The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Heartworm Society recommend keeping your pet on a heartworm preventive year-round, and so do we.

Heartworm Preventives: A Hidden Bargain

Did you know that heartworm preventives prevent more than just heartworm? The majority of heartworm preventives also include medications designed to treat the most common intestinal parasites, such as whipworm, roundworm, and hookworm. Not only do these nasty foes have the ability to cause serious and expensive health problems for your pet, they can also be passed from animal to human. All the more reason to provide your pet with a heartworm preventive each and every month of the year.

If you have not started your pet on a heartworm preventive yet, give us a call at Bee Vet!