Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease. However, it can be prevented with monthly preventative. Heartworms are transmitted by infected mosquitos and are injected into the pet when the mosquito takes a blood meal from it’s natural host, the dog. These immature heartworms will circulate in the bloodstream of the dog. Once these heartworms become adults, they with settle in the heart where they will mate and produce offspring. If left untreated, the heartworms can cause damage to the heart, lungs and arteries and affect the animal's health and quality of life. There are usually not very many symptoms of heartworms in the beginning, symptoms will progressively show. Things that may indicate heartworms include coughing, decreased appetite, lethargy, weight loss, or intolerance of exercise or heat. As the worms mature and the infestation becomes greater fluid in the belly may appear, giving your pet a "pot-bellies" appearance or Congestive Heart Failure may occur. Prevention is by far the best way to keep your pet from getting heartworms!! Heartworms are diagnosed by a simple blood test that is ran in-clinic. We usually do this at the time of your pet’s annual wellness examine, but maybe needed in some cases in order for us to dispense heartworm prevention.
Cats are NOT a natural host for heartworms and usually will only have 1-3 adult worms. However, since the cat is not a natural host, most immature heartworms don’t make it to the adult stage. There are preventatives available for cats but there is not an effective or safe treatment at this time so prevention is the only way of protecting your cat. You can talk with one of our veterinarians to see if your cat should be on a prevention.