Heartworms are internal parasites that can infect dogs, cats, ferrets and other mammals. They live in the large blood vessels around a pet’s heart. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, and it can even cause death.
Signs of Heartworm Disease
While heartworm disease might not cause your pet to exhibit signs in the early stages, if left undetected and untreated, it can cause sudden and unannounced death. In most cases, a pet will show almost no initial signs of having the disease.
Signs of heartworm disease can include the development of a persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after light activity, and a decrease in both appetite and weight. Cats’ symptoms of heartworm disease can include vomiting, rapid breathing, and weight loss. There is no approved treatment of adult heartworms in cats so prevention of the disease is particularly crucial for your feline friends.
Heartworm Disease Prevention
Heartworm is incredibly easy to transmit—in fact, heartworm can be passed through the bite of just one mosquito. Implementing a year-round heartworm preventive, as well as a yearly heartworm test, is crucial for minimizing your pet’s risk of contracting heartworm disease. Heartworm prevention works by killing the immature stages of heartworms through an oral or topical preventive given monthly, or an injectable medication administered by your veterinarian every six months (dogs only).