Heartworm disease is very serious for pets, as it can result in heart failure, lung disease and even death. Heartworms are spread through the bites of infected mosquitos, which leave larvae inside your pet. The worms grow up and live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of infected animals. While there is a common thought that heartworm is not a concern in Colorado, this is a misconception—the number of out-of-state animals here makes it indeed a concern! In fact, Fort Collins was one of the ten U.S. cities with the greatest increase of positive cases of heartworm tests this January.
When an infected mosquito bites a dog, the mosquito spreads the larvae of heartworms to the dog through the bite wound. For the now newly infected dog, it usually takes about six or seven months for the larvae to develop into adult heartworms, which then mate and soon release their offspring into the dog’s bloodstream. Heartworm disease is not contagious and is only spread through the bite of a mosquito, but once inside a dog, a single heartworm could live an average of five to seven years.
Cats can get heartworm after being bitten by an infected mosquito, but they are not as susceptible to it as dogs are. Simply put, heartworms don’t thrive as well inside a cats body; they don’t grow as much or live as long as they do in dogs, and fewer of the worms mature into adults. This being said, both indoor and outdoor cats are still at risk for heartworm disease. Cats with heartworm disease may have symptoms that resemble other feline diseases, including vomiting and loss of appetite, activity and weight.
The Best—and Cheapest—Treatment for Heartworm is Prevention!
April is Heartworm Awareness Month, and we want to highlight the importance of preventing this deadly disease. There are many FDA-approved preventative products that we carry, which can be given monthly as a topical liquid or as an oral tablet—these products protect not only against heartworm, but against other parasites as well. Year-round prevention is the best way to avoid those nasty heartworms, so please be aware of what you can do to protect your pets against this potentially deadly disease!
If you’d like to learn more about heartworm disease and how you can prevent it, schedule an appointment at Bear Valley Veterinary Care Center online or by calling (303) 985-3316.