Heartworm Disease on the Rise
A recent study revealed that over 250,000 dogs and cats tested positive for heartworms in 2005. The picture to the left shows a dog's heart full of heartworms.
This is astounding because heartworms are easily preventable by administering a once a month preventative product. A number of heartworm preventions are available including 3 types of tablets (Trifexis? , Sentinel? , and Heartguard? ) , topical products (Revolution?, Advantage Multi?) and even a 6 month injectable product (ProHeart?). Heartworm preventatives are affordable with the cost of prevention running from $3.00 per month to $11.00 per month depending on the weight of the dog and the product used. This is minimal compared to the cost of treating a dog for heartworms, not only in dollars but in the permanent damage that is done to the heart and lungs by the heartworm infection.
Dogs and cats get heartworms from mosquitoes. The heartworm life cycle is slightly complex but it usually takes 5-6 months from the time an infected mosquito bites a dog or cat to turn a heartworm test positive. To learn about the dog heartworm life cycle in detail, click here.
Cats with heartworms are a different story. Heartworms affect cats differently than dogs and as few as one heartworm can kill a cat. The cat's immune system is extremely reactive against heartworms. For this reason, it is virtually impossible to detect microfilariae (baby heartworms) in an infected cat. (The cat's immune system removes them too quickly). Also, symptoms of infection tend to be more immune-related than heart failure related. Cats develop more of a lung disease, complete with respiratory stress, and coughing or vomiting chronically. Feline heartworm disease is often misdiagnosed as feline asthma. Sudden death may occur just as it may occur in infected dogs.
Many owners are busy and forget to give the product even thought they have purchased it with good intentions of administering it to their pet. Most of the products come with stickers to place on your calendar to remind you to give the product and there are e-mail reminders that the companies will send you once a month for the computer dependant people!
Prevent your pet from becoming infected and get your pet on a heartworm prevention. Call our office for details at 704-827-5300.