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Does My Pet Need Heartworm Prevention?

Heartworms are a parasitic type of roundworm that is transmitted from animal to animal by mosquito bites. Once the microscopic heartworm larvae enter the host animal, they eventually develop into adult worms that inhabit the lungs and heart where they can cause irreparable damage. Heartworm disease can cause respiratory problems, blood clots, and cardiac distress, and if left untreated can be fatal.

Is your pet at risk?

Heartworms and heartworm disease are not directly contagious, and cannot be transmitted by contact. Heartworms are only transmitted by mosquitoes, so any dog or cat that lives where mosquitoes are present is at risk.

Remember that mosquitoes can be present all year round in many areas, not just during summer. Mosquitoes can even survive the winter inside your home, so keeping your dog or cat indoors doesn’t protect them from infection.

Contrary to popular belief, cats are just as much at risk of infection from heartworm as dogs. It is true that the heartworms are less likely to mature and lead to heartworm disease, but if they do, the consequences are just as serious.

Why prevention is important

While heartworm disease in dogs can be treated, the options available can be drawn out and potentially harmful to your dog, not to mention expensive. Even with treatment, heartworms can also cause irreversible damage to the organs. The good news is that heartworms are 100% preventable with medication.

Prevention is particularly important for cats, as there is currently no feline treatment for adult heartworms. The drug therapy used for dogs is not safe for cats, and the only option is to treat the symptoms of heartworm disease and keep the cat healthy until the heartworms die – which can be 2-3 years.

How heartworm medication works

The heartworm medication that you give to your dog or cat is actually a preventative measure only, it will not treat existing heartworm disease. Before starting any heartworm medication, you will need to have your pet tested and treated for adult heartworm – giving a preventative to a heartworm positive dog or cat can be potentially dangerous.

Heartworm medication does not protect your pet from being infected by mosquitoes but instead kills off the heartworms at the larvae stage. This is why it is so important not to forget your pet’s monthly heartworm preventative – only with regular treatment can you be sure to eliminate any heartworm larvae before they develop into adults.

Does My Pet Need Heartworm Prevention?

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