Heartworm Disease

By Dr. Klint Hockenberry

Heartworm Disease
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Heartworm disease is a deadly parasitic disease present throughout the U.S. affecting cats and dogs. It is spread from pet to pet by mosquito bites, then grows inside the pet’s heart. Once in the heart, it can cause irreversible lung and cardiac damage, clot formation with clot spread throughout the body, and death. Due to the import/rescue of animals from the Southern U.S. following natural disasters (Katrina, Harvey, etc), the number of heartworm-infected pets in Pennsylvania has hit record highs. It is no longer a “justifiable” risk to not have all pets protected with a monthly heartworm prevention year-round.

If a dog contracts heartworm disease, the treatment is far different than the monthly prevention. Treatment costs will be one to several thousand dollars, treatment takes place over 6 months, and treatment is with a drug called melarsomine. Melarsomine, which contains arsenic, has numerous potential side effects; another great reason to use monthly heartworm prevention year-round.

If a cat contracts heartworm disease it is difficult to know. There is no reliable test for diagnosing feline heartworm disease. In fact, most diagnoses are achieved on autopsy following the cat’s sudden death! Even if we can diagnose it in cats, there is no treatment! Every cat needs monthly year-round heartworm prevention (Revolution).

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