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National Heartworm Awareness Month

April 1, 2022

April is National Heartworm Awareness Month. Heartworm is contracted through the bite of a mosquito and can be very dangerous to pets. It is important to understand what it is and how to prevent it. 

What is heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets that is caused by heartworms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of infected pets. If left untreated, it can cause severe lung disease, heart failure, and damage to other organs.

How does heartworm impact dogs?
Heartworms can easily live inside dogs. If left untreated, heartworms can grow and produce offspring, increasing the number of worms in their bodies. 

The vast amount of heartworm positive animals are asymptomatic. Clinical signs of heartworm disease in dogs include:

  • Mild cough
  • Fatigue after moderate activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss

Caval syndrome can occur in dogs with a large number of heartworms and can cause blockages in blood flow and a potentially life-threatening form of cardiovascular collapse.

Symptoms of caval syndrome include sudden onset of labored breathing pale gums dark, bloody, or coffee-colored urine

How does heartworm impact cats?
Heartworm in cats is uncommon. Cats can only host 1-3 worms and, while uncommon, heartworms can cause a condition known as heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD). Unfortunately, there is no treatment for heartworm in cats, so prevention is the only option.

Clinical signs of heartworm in cats include:

  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sudden death

What can be done to prevent heartworm disease?
Dogs should be tested annually for heartworm during their routine wellness visits. Heartworm preventatives are available for dogs and cats. There are many preventative options available. Talk to your veterinarian about the best preventative treatment for your dog or cat.

For more information or to schedule your pet's next exam, please call us at (972) 496-4126.