Heartworm Disease

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is very serious, as it can result in severe lung disease, heart failure and even death in pets. Heartworms are spread through mosquito bites, which results in worms producing offspring inside your pet. These worms live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of an infected animal.

Heartworm in Dogs

When an infected mosquito bites a dog, the mosquito spreads the infective larvae of heartworms to the dog through the bite wound. For the now newly infected dog, it usually takes about six or seven months for the larvae to develop into adult heartworms, which then mate, causing the female to release their offspring into the dog’s bloodstream.

Heartworm disease is not contagious and is only spread through the bite of a mosquito. Once inside a dog, a heartworm’s lifespan is five to seven years.

Symptoms of Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Symptoms of heartworm disease in dogs may not be obvious, as a dog may appear healthy on the outside, but on the inside heartworms may be living. There are four different stages (classes) of heartworm disease in dogs:

• Class 1: No symptoms or minimal symptoms like an occasional cough
• Class 2: Moderate symptoms like occasional cough and fatigue
• Class 3: Loss of body condition, persistent cough and fatigue after mild activity. Breathing problems and signs of heart failure are also common.
• Class 4: Caval syndrome, where blood flowing back to the heart gets physically blocked by a large mass of worms. This class is life-threatening and immediate surgical removal of the worms is the only treatment option. The surgery is risky, and at this stage there are high fatality rates.

Prevention

The best treatment for heartworm disease is prevention. There are many FDA-approved products out there, which can be given monthly as a topical liquid or as an oral tablet. Year-round prevention is the best.

Heartworm in Cats

Cats can get heartworm after being bitten by an infected mosquito, however they are not as susceptible to it as dogs are—the worms don’t thrive as well inside a cat’s body. Both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk for heartworm disease. Heartworms don’t live as long or grow as long in cats as they do in dogs, and fewer of the worms mature into adults.

Symptoms of Heartworm Disease in Cats

Not all cats with heartworm disease will display symptoms, and some cats can even spontaneously rid themselves of heartworms without having any symptoms. Cats with heartworm disease may have symptoms that resemble other feline diseases—these include vomiting, loss of appetite and activity and weight loss.

For cats that do have symptoms of heartworm disease, respiratory symptoms may occur due to lung damage. Felines will usually show symptoms of heartworm disease in two instances—when immature heartworms arrive in the heart and lung arteries and when adult heartworms die.

Prevention

The best treatment for heartworm disease is prevention. There are many FDA-approved products out there, which can be given monthly as a topical liquid or as an oral tablet. Year-round prevention is the best.

At PAVG, we are always committed to making sure your pet stays happy and healthy. For any questions regarding heartworm, please contact us at our following locations:

Chillicothe: 309-273-1909
Dunlap: 309-439-9522
Dunlap II: 309-413-0527

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