April is Heartworm Awareness Month! Here we are again with more health news that you should know about to keep your pet healthy and protected. Heartworm disease is a severe and potentially fatal disease that affects pets in the United States and all over the world. To learn more about what heartworm disease is, its transmission, and its symptoms, then keep reading.
Heartworm Disease Defined
Heartworm disease is a condition caused by parasitic worms (Dirofilaria immitis) living in the heart of a pet, as well as the lungs and blood vessels of affected pets. As a result, heartworm disease can cause heart failure, severe lung disease, and damage to other organs in the body. Both cats and dogs can contract this disease.
Heartworm Disease in Dogs
Dogs are a natural host for heartworms. What this means is that heartworms that live inside of a dog can mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring. If heartworm disease goes untreated, the number of heartworms can increase drastically. Some dogs have been known to have hundreds of heartworms inside of their body. As a result, lasting damage happens to the heart, lungs, and arteries. This disease needs treatment right away because even after the parasites are gone, a dog’s health and quality of life are impacted. The best thing you can do for your dog is to stop heartworm disease before it starts by using a preventative like Interceptor Plus. We also recommend testing your dog regularly. The tests we run test for heartworm disease, Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasia.
Heartworm Disease in Cats
This disease within cats differs from dogs. A cat is an atypical host, which means that most worms in cats do not live until adulthood. Cats also typically host 1-3 heartworms. Because heartworms do not reach adulthood, this disease within cats, unfortunately, often goes undiagnosed. Heartworms that don’t mature are still problematic. They can cause heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD). Also, the medications used to treat dogs for heartworms do not work in cats. The best treatment for cats is prevention with products like Bravecto Plus.
Cause and Transmission
Mosquitos play a significant role in the cause and transmission of this disease. When a mosquito bites a dog, heartworm disease can develop. Baby heartworms (microfilaria) can also develop inside of a mosquito and remain in an infective stage for 10-14 days. If the infected mosquito bites another dog, cat, or mammal then that animal then becomes infected.
Symptoms for Dogs
- Lack of Appetite
- Persistent Coughing
- Lack of Desire to Exercise
- Fatigue after moderate activity
- Dark or bloody urine
- Pale gums
Symptoms for Cats
- Asthma-Like Attacks
- Lack of Appetite
- Weight Loss
- Trouble Walking
- Seizures of fainting
Here at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital, We’ll Treat Your Pets Like Family!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!