Source: American Heartworm Society
What is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworms are a blood-borne parasite called Dirofilaria Immitis caused by parasitic worms that live in the heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels of affected pets. Heartworms cause lung disease, heart failure and will damage other organs throughout the body. When a mosquito bites and takes a blood meal from an infected animal. it picks up these baby worms, which develop and mature into “infective stage” larvae over a period of 10 to 14 days. It takes approximately 6 months for the larvae to develop into sexually mature adult heartworms. Once mature, heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats. Because of the longevity of these worms, each mosquito season can lead to an increasing number of worms in an infected pet. Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats and ferrets.
Keeping our dogs free of heartworms is much cheaper, easier, and safer than treating them for a full-blown disease. However, it is important that you use heartworm preventives properly for both, your safety and your dog’s safety. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for heartworm infection in Cats.
Consult Your Veterinarian First
It’s very important that you use only approved heartworm medications, in the correct dosage, for your dog’s particular age, weight, and health status. But before deciding to give a heartworm medication to your dog, contact Good Shepherd Pet Hospital for advice. A negative heartworm test is required to obtain a prescription for heartworm medication.
There are several kinds of heartworm preventive medications commonly used today. Many of these preventives have multiple benefits; some also control intestinal parasites as well as external parasites. Please contact us to get your pet tested and have them started on a life-saving heartworm prevention.
Heartworm prevention medication is required all year long, especially in FL, where mosquitoes are always present.