Heartworm, also known as Dirofilaria Immitis, is a common parasitic infection in dogs worldwide, with a high prevalence rate in unprotected dogs living in highly endemic areas. This disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, which inject a microscopic larvae into the dog’s bloodstream. These larvae then grow into adult worms and reside in the heart and lungs of the affected dog.
As the infection progresses, symptoms such a coughing, weight loss, fluid buildup in the abdomen, fainting spells, anemia, collapse and even death can occur. Fortunately, there are several effective medications available to prevent heartworm infection, including Interceptor Plus, Simparica Trio, or Proheart injection.
Even if a dog is on preventative medication, it is important to have annual checkups and blood tests to check for heartworm disease. There is always a 1-2% chance that dog can have heartworm disease and even missing 1 week of medication can allow a dog to become infected. If a dog has heartworms and is given a dose of prevention, a fatal reaction is likely.
Treatment for adult heartworms in dogs is expensive and potentially harmful to dogs, which is why monthly prevention is so important.
Heartworm disease was once thought rare in cats, but now known to be much more common (10-50% the canine rate). The symptoms and diagnosis of heartworm in cats are different than dogs. Cats usually have asthma signs (cough, out of breath, open mouth breathing) and will often have intermittent vomiting. The most common sign if fatality. The treatment for adult heartworms in cats is monthly prevention, which may or may not work. This is why keeping cats on monthly prevention (indoor and outdoor alike) is vital in the health and prevention of disease for your cat. We recommend Revolution Plus monthly for your cat.
Heartworm incidence maps: https://wsava.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Selecting-a-pet-food-for-your-pet-updated-2021_WSAVA-Global-Nutrition-Toolkit.pdf
Heartworm disease in dogs: https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4951469
Heartworm disease in cats: https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4951471