PAAH Education - All Animals
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms living in the arteries of the lungs and occasionally in the right side of the heart of dogs, cats and other species of mammals, including wolves, foxes, ferrets, sea lions and in rare instances, humans.
Here are a few Quick Facts:
- Spread by mosquitoes, heartworm is debilitating, and may even prove fatal.
- All dogs are at risk, regardless of whether they are considered indoor or outdoor pets. Even dogs that are mostly indoor go outside to potty, and they tend to do so when mosquitoes are most active – morning and evening.
- Treatment for heartworm disease is expensive and carries some risk. Side effects of treatment are fewer since the introduction of Immiticide, the drug currently used to treat adult heartworm, but potential problems still range from the mild to severe. In almost all cases however, the risks of treatment with Immiticide are less than the risk of not treating.
- Prevention is the best treatment. It is easy, safe, effective, and affordable.
- Heartworm prevention must be given monthly, and year round in Florida.
- Because of the severity of the disease, heartworm testing is recommended yearly even if a dog is on heartworm prevention.
- Cats can get heartworm too so talk to your veterinarian about feline heartworm.
Heartworm prevention is safe, easy and inexpensive. While treatment for heartworm disease in dogs is possible, it is a complicated and expensive process, taking weeks for infected animals to recover. There is no effective treatment for heartworm disease in cats, so it is imperative that disease prevention measures be taken for cats. Prevention can be include: daily and monthly tablets and chewables, monthly topicals and a six-month injectable product available only for dogs.