While heartworms are more concentrated in some areas of the U.S., they have been reported in all states. Even during long, cold winters, mosquitoes can find warm, protected spots to live. And in dry areas, there are always sites of standing water where they can breed. Mosquitoes can sneak into your house, so even exclusively indoor pets are not protected from their bites.
It just takes one bite from one infected mosquito to afflict your furry friend with parasitic heartworms. Heartworms live in your pet’s heart, lungs and the surrounding blood vessels and cause serious, even fatal disease in dogs and cats.
You may be under the belief that cats don’t get heartworms. But scientists have found that they do and more commonly than previously thought. Heartworm infection in dogs is more common than heartworms in cats, but cats can get much sicker. The larvae themselves cause serious lung disease and permanently affect your cat’s health. And even though feline systems usually pose a greater challenge to the heartworms reaching maturity and only a few of the larvae will ever reach that stage, just one adult heartworm can cause serious illness. The first indication of heartworm disease in cats may be sudden death.
When dogs and cats are bitten by an infected mosquito, the mosquito draws blood from your pet for a meal and deposits larvae in the wound. The larvae migrate through the tissues and blood and develop into adult worms. The adult worms reside in the heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels, where they inflict their damage. If your pet is not protected by heartworm preventive medication, your furry friend is defenseless when that one mosquito bites her. If your dog becomes infected with heartworms, she can be treated, but the treatment is complicated and costly to both her health and your pocketbook. Cats, unfortunately, cannot be treated for heartworms and options are limited to providing supportive care. Your pet’s best defense against debilitating heartworm infection is year-round heartworm prevention.
Protecting your pet with heartworm preventive medication is like providing her with an insurance policy against debilitating disease or even death from heartworm disease. It is important to understand that the available medical treatments are aimed at trying to lessen the debilitating and often lethal effects of the heartworms. And even though treatment is available for dogs with heartworms, it can be a very expensive, complicated, prolonged and time consuming process. A dog being treated for heartworms must be managed carefully, including close observation and restriction of exercise. Any damage already done by the heartworms may be permanent, so your dog’s quality of life may be irreversibly affected, regardless of how successful the course of treatment is or how early medical intervention was implemented. Since there are no approved drug treatments for cats, cat parents are limited to making their infected kitty as comfortable as possible and providing supportive care calculated to assist his system in clearing the heartworms and larvae.
Give your furry friend the best defense possible against the serious health effects of heartworm disease. Year-round prevention will protect your pet when that one mosquito bites and tries to leave its mark with heartworms. There are lots of options from which to choose to protect your pet. We can help pick the one that?s best for your beloved companion.