What Is Heartworm Disease?

What Is Heartworm Disease?

April is Heartworm Awareness Month, and we’re using the opportunity to help educate pet owners about heartworms, heartworm disease, and the importance of protecting their pets from both.

What Are Heartworms?

Heartworms are a dangerous type of parasite that can infect dogs and cats, although cats are considered an atypical host. Animals can become infected with heartworm when they are bitten by an infected mosquito that deposits heartworm larvae into the animal’s bloodstream. The heartworms then travel through the blood vessels to the heart where they grow, mature, and reproduce.

What Is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease is a medical condition that occurs as a result of heartworms living in and damaging an animal’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels. The condition is slightly different in dogs and cats. In both species, the signs and symptoms of heartworm disease can vary greatly. There are four stages of heartworm disease:

Why Heartworm Prevention Is So Important

Heartworm prevention is essential because treatment is very limited, unreliable, and invasive for dogs, and treatment is nonexistent for cats. Plus, heartworm disease is typically fatal for both dogs and cats. As a result, it is essential to protect your pet from heartworms with preventative medication. You can also help to protect them by limiting their exposure to potentially infected mosquitoes by keeping your yard free from standing water and other debris.

Heartworm Screening and Prevention With Our Veterinarian in Fort Worth

At South Meadow Animal Clinic, we take heartworm prevention seriously. The mosquito population in Fort Worth is high, which means the risk of pets contracting heartworms is also very high throughout the year. For this reason, we recommend year-round, continuous heartworm protection for dogs and cats.
Before administering a heartworm preventative, however, it is important to screen pets for heartworms because administering a preventative to an infected pet can be fatal. This is why preventative medications for heartworms are only available at the veterinary office.
To learn more about heartworm screening and prevention, we welcome you to schedule an appointment for your pet today.