[Masthead] Partly Cloudy ~ 58°F  
High: 62°F ~ Low: 45°F
Monday, May 2, 2016

Ask the Vet

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The truth about heartworms

Spring is here and, unfortunately for us and our pets, the mosquitoes will not be far behind. Mosquitoes can carry a variety of diseases affecting animals, but one of the most devastating diseases to the dog or cat is Heartworm Disease.

Life Cycle

* Can be transmitted from infected dogs, cats, or wild animals such as coyotes

* Mosquitoes are necessary for the life cycle of heartworms

* Once a dog/cat is infected, adult worms can live for years and cause severe damage to the lungs and heart of the animal

What Do I Need to Know?

* Every dog should be on a heartworm preventative (Heartgard, Revolution, Interceptor)

These preventatives also provide protection against roundworms and/or hookworms and whipworms

* Recommendations by the American Heartworm Society (www.heartwormsociety.org)

Give preventative every month year-round

Test every dog before beginning preventative and again 6 months later, then test yearly

* Recommendations by Valley Veterinary Center

For those who wish to do so, giving preventative through an extended mosquito season (April through December) is acceptable, but you must then test every year before starting treatment in April

If you give preventative year-round, we do not require a heartworm test at the beginning of the mosquito season every year

It may be cheaper to keep a dog on year-round prevention rather than only through the summer months and test yearly

What If My Dog Tests Positive?

* Heartworms can result in massive artery and lung damage, and even sudden death

* There is a treatment for heartworms that will kill the adult worms

* Killing off the adult worms can cause additional damage as they cause a severe immune system reaction, which may even result in death

What About My Cat?

* Cats can develop heartworm disease as well

* Disease is much more severe in cats and no approved treatment exists

* We recommend topical Revolution monthly as a preventative

Revolution also treats your cat for hookworms, roundworms, ear mites, mange mites and fleas

* Testing is available

The bottom line, prevention is the best medicine.