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The Truth About Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is a devastating disease that affects cats, dogs, ferrets and other animals throughout the world.

Heartworms are parasitic worms called Dirofilaria immitis, and are carried and spread between animals by infected mosquitoes. Once an animal has been infected, the worms develop, grow and breed in the host animal. The adult worms take over the heart, liver and large blood vessels, causing lung disease, organ damage, heart failure, and death.

The unfortunate truth about heartworm disease is that while treatment exists for dogs, it is very costly and not always effective; and there is no approved treatment for cats or ferrets, making the disease fatal. Every year, a staggering number of pets die from heartworms. All of these cases could be prevented with a year-round preventative medication from a veterinarian.

Many pet owners have heard the myths surrounding heartworms, and pass them on as fact. Together, we can spread the word and dispel some of the myths of heartworms, and maybe save a few lives in the process.

Myth #1: Pets only need to be treated with heartworm preventative during mosquito season.

False. Pets should be treated with a year round heartworm preventative, regardless of where you reside.

Myth #2: We don’t have heartworm disease in my area.

False. Largely due to pets being adopted and moved from one state to another, we now have confirmed reporting of heartworm disease in all 50 states.

Myth #3: Puppies are immune to heartworm disease.

False. Dogs, cats and 30 other species of animals can catch heartworm disease at any age. All it takes is one bite from an infected mosquito.

Myth #4: Heartworm disease is easy to treat in pets.

False. Heartworm disease is very difficult to treat in dogs, and treatment can cost thousands of dollars. There is no treatment for cats that has been approved by the FDA.

Myth #5: Indoor only cats, and pets up to date on vaccinations, cannot get heartworm disease.

False. Mosquito’s can, and do, get inside the home. Indoor pets can, and do, escape. There is no vaccination to prevent heartworms. It only takes one mosquito to infect your pet, and heartworm preventative medication is the only way to keep your pet safe.

Myth #6: Heartworm disease is rarely fatal.

False. Heartworm disease, unless aggressively treated in dogs, is almost always fatal, and is always fatal for cats.

Myth #7: Pets that test positive for heartworm should be kept away from other animals and people.

False. A heartworm positive pet cannot pass heartworm to a person or other animal. Only mosquitoes can transmit heartworm disease. If you adopt a pet that is heartworm positive, your other pets are safe if they are on a heartworm preventative.

Don’t let your beloved pet fall prey to this deadly disease. If your pet is not on, or current on, a heartworm preventative, please call your Veterinarian today and make an appointment to have you pet seen and started on a heartworm prevention program.