Risks & Prevention
By Becca Conner
WHAT IS HEARTWORM?
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure, and damage to other organs in the body.
Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats and ferrets, but heartworms also live in other mammal species.
HOW CAN MY PET GET HEARTWORM DISEASE?
The mosquito transfers heartworm disease from infected pets to your pet. According to the American Heartworm Society, “Adult female heartworms living in an infected dog, fox, coyote, or wolf produce microscopic baby worms called microfilaria that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites and takes a blood meal from an infected animal, it picks up these baby worms, which develop and mature into “infected stage” larvae over a period of 10 to 14 days. Then, when the infected mosquito bites another dog, cat, or susceptible wild animal, the infected larvae are deposited onto the surface of the animal’s skin and enter the new host through the mosquito’s bite wound. Once inside a new host, it takes approximately 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms.
HOW CAN I PREVENT HEARTWORM DISEASE IN MY PET?
In order to stop heartworms before they reach the adult stage preventives must be administered strictly on monthly schedule. At Neffsville Veterinary Clinic we offer preventatives for our feline and canine patients. For our canine products, Sentinel and Sentinel Spectrum are available. The feline product we recommend is revolution which also covers adult fleas, hookworm, roundworm, and ear mites. For our canine patients we highly recommend yearly testing in order to fill your prescription.