The Dangers of Heartworm Disease and How to Prevent It

The Dangers of Heartworm Disease and How to Prevent It

Mosquitos are active in Wisconsin from May through September (or until the weather gets cold enough that they start to die off). When mosquitoes are active, cats and dogs are at risk of getting heartworms, and these pesky parasites can put the health of our pets in serious danger. Keep reading to learn everything you should know about the dangers of heartworm disease and how to prevent it.

What Are Heartworms?

Heartworms are a type of parasite carried and spread by mosquitoes. Mosquitos pick up heartworm larvae when they bite infected animals. They then transfer the heartworm larvae to pets when they, in turn, bite a cat or dog.

Heartworm Disease in Dogs and Cats

When bitten by a mosquito carrying heartworm larvae, the larvae enter a pet’s bloodstream and travel to the heart and lungs where they grow, mature, and reproduce.
Heartworms can damage a pet’s heart and lungs, causing respiratory problems, cardiovascular problems, and even fatal heart failure. The symptoms and health problems caused by a heartworm infection are referred to as heartworm disease. Dogs are natural hosts for heartworms. This means that the parasites can grow to maturity in a dog, making heartworm disease much more severe in canines than it is in felines. Cats are not natural hosts for heartworms, and while a few might survive in a cat’s system, they rarely experience the same degree of infestations as dogs. However, heartworms can still wreak havoc on a cat’s health.

Why It's Essential to Protect Your Pet From Heartworms

There is no treatment for heartworm disease in cats, and the treatment for heartworm disease in dogs is lengthy and not always successful. For this reason, preventing your pet from contracting heartworms is essential to protecting their health.
The best way to protect cats and dogs from heartworm disease is to provide them with preventative heartworm medication. These come in both oral tablets that are usually administered monthly and preventative injections that are administered every six or twelve months, depending on the type of injection administered. Additionally, we recommend taking steps to minimize mosquito populations around your home by cleaning up your yard and eliminating standing water where mosquitoes lay their eggs.

Schedule a Screening and Heartworm Prevention Appointment With Our Wisconsin Veterinarian

Administering a heartworm preventative to a pet that has already been infected with heartworm parasites can be fatal. For this reason, our veterinarians at Animal Wellness Center in Wisconsin always screen pets for heartworms with a simple blood test prior to administering a heartworm preventative. To learn more or schedule an appointment for your dog or cat, we welcome you to contact one of our Wisconsin veterinary clinics today.