Is your dog or cat on year-round heartworm prevention? If not, he/she is at serious risk for irreversible, potentially fatal, heart damage. Heartworms are spread through mosquito bites, and it only takes one mosquito to infect your pet. Therefore, even if your pet never goes outside, they are at risk for heartworm disease should an infected mosquito ever enter your home and bite them. Over the next 6 months, the heartworms develop into adults, live and multiply in the heart valves, and begin causing severe heart damage. If left untreated, heartworm disease is fatal.

Cases of heartworm disease have been diagnosed in all 50 states. Mosquitoes can be present even during cold months, especially in humid environments like the Carolinas. This is why consistency is key when it comes to administering preventative – not missing a dose or being late on dosing your pet each month.

While both cats and dogs are at risk for heartworm disease, only dogs can be treated for heartworms. There is no approved treatment for cats at this time, so prevention is of utmost importance. There are many options for heartworm prevention, and the cost of heartworm preventative isso small compared to the cost of treating for heartworms.

If your pet does test positive for heartworms, a treatment protocol will be explained by your veterinarian. Dogs must be kept confined and exercise restricted until treatment is complete. Treatment typically consists of blood work, x-rays, medications, and a series of injections. Depending on your pet’s overall health and severity of the heartworm infection, there are certain risks during treatment. However, carefully following your veterinarian’s treatment protocol will help reduce some of the risks involved.

Heartworms are easily preventable, so be sure to keep your dog or cat on year-round heartworm prevention and have them tested annually. This proactive step will help keep your companion happy and healthy for years to come.