Heartworm disease affects pets throughout the entire United States. It develops when a pet is bitten by a mosquito carrying microscopic heartworm larvae. The larvae penetrate the skin and migrate into the pet's bloodstream. Adult heartworms can grow 10 to 12 inches in length and make their home in the right side of the heart and pulmonary arteries, often causing lung disease and heart failure.
Recent studies have shown that cats suffer from heartworm disease as well. Some cats can fight off heartworm disease at an immature stage in the worm's growth however, during that process your cat's lungs can become scarred. This can represent a serious health risk to your cat. Cats that have been exposed to heartworm many times can suffer from chronic respiratory problems and even sudden death.
Heartworm is easy to prevent in both dogs and cats. In accordance with recent national recommendations, our doctors recommend keeping your pet on heartworm prevention medication all year long. Studies have shown better compliance and better control of heartworm disease. Annual testing is required for dogs so we are assured your pet has not been infected during the prior summer. Preventive medications are also recommended for cats, although no blood testing is required.
We prescribe Heartgard or Sentinel for heartworm prevention. It also treats and controls several other internal parasites which can be harmful to dogs, cats, and humans. Roundworms and hookworms are "zoonotic" which means they can spread from your pet to you and your family. Monthly use of one of these medications keeps everyone protected against these internal parasites.