Apr 05 2017

The Truth about Heartworm Disease in WNC


Heartworm disease in dogs and cats causes severe heart and lung disease. When mosquitoes bite our pets, they can inject baby heartworms into the pet. The heartworm parasite develops in the dog or cat over months to an adult, and lives and breeds in the large blood vessel between the heart and lungs. 

The patient has a reaction to the parasite, causing severe inflammation in the blood vessel. Blood flow through the blood vessel can be diminished from the physical presence of the worms, and as worms die, they are carried with the blood flow into the lungs, causing more inflammation.

Dogs can be given a medication that will kill the worms, but there is still permanent damage to the heart, blood vessel, and lungs. As the worms are killed, they flow into the lungs, which sometimes causes coughing and trouble breathing. Cats cannot be treated and have a 50/50 chance of surviving.

Since this disease is dangerous for cats and dogs, and expensive to treat, heartworm prevention is critically important. Heartworm prevention is given once monthly, and the medication kills any of the baby heartworms before they can develop into adult worms.These medications are flavored for dogs and topical or chewable for cats, to make it easier for you to give the medication successfully. Prevention is 99.5% effective at preventing heartworm disease when given every month for your pet’s life.

Unfortunately our small part of the world is moderate to severe in prevalence of heartworm disease. Our area is well known to have healthy mosquito populations, and the wildlife in our area can carry heartworm disease, facilitating its spread to our pets. We hate to diagnose heartworm disease since it is usually a preventable problem. Our winter weather is generally not severe enough to eliminate mosquitoes, so giving heartworm prevention every month is critical.

Starting heartworm prevention requires an appointment for heartworm testing first, as well as a current exam. If the test is negative, Heartgard can be started. We have rebates available at the front desk and on our shopping website, VetsFirstChoice. We understand that life is busy, so we highly recommend getting a year’s supply if possible. Having the medication handy at home helps us remember to give that dose every month. Getting a year’s supply also gives the best rebate benefit.

Check your calendar! When did you last give your pet heartworm prevention? Please call our office if you don’t remember, of if it has been longer than 4 months. Ruby says please help prevent this disease from shortening your pet’s life! Remember Heartworm Prevention!  Click here to go back to our facebook page and tell us the last time you gave heartworm prevention. 

Click here for more heartworm disease information!

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