Below is some information from the American Heartworm Society.
A heartworm infection is a potentially fatal disease that can lead to numerous health complications for your pet, which is why our healthcare team emphasizes a monthly heartworm preventative as part of our patient’s comprehensive care plan. Since heartworms are transmitted through mosquito bites, year round prevention is very important in Florida.
Early detection is critical to the successful treatment of heartworm disease and your pet’s long term recovery. Edge Animal Hospital recommends an annual heartworm test for all of our patients to ensure their preventative medicine is effective, and so that we may diagnose an infection in the early stages when treatment methods are less invasive and less costly to owners.
Dogs. The dog is a natural host for heartworms, which means that heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate and produce offspring. If untreated, their numbers can increase, and dogs have been known to harbor several hundred worms in their bodies. Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. For this reason, heartworm prevention for dogs is by far the best option, and treatment—when needed—should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible. Learn more about heartworm medicine for dogs.
Cats. Heartworm disease in cats is very different from heartworm disease in dogs. The cat is an atypical host for heartworms, and most worms in cats do not survive to the adult stage. Cats with adult heartworms typically have just one to three worms, and many cats affected by heartworms have no adult worms. While this means heartworm disease often goes undiagnosed in cats, it’s important to understand that even immature worms cause real damage in the form of a condition known as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD). Moreover, the medication used to treat heartworm infections in dogs cannot be used in cats, so prevention is the only means of protecting cats from the effects of heartworm disease.
Heartworm is an easily preventable disease. If your dog is not currently using a veterinarian-recommended heartworm prevention medication, please schedule an appointment right away. There is no reason for your dog to be exposed to heartworm disease when prevention is so simple.