Mosquitoes are the only known vector of heartworm disease. A mosquito is exposed when it bites an animal with circulating heartworm microfilaria, the immature stage of heartworm. The host mosquito transmits heartworm with subsequent bites, which means your pet can be exposed even if he or she is not around other animals. Once in your pet’s system, the heartworm continues to grow, eventually migrating into the large blood vessels of the lungs where they cause severe, sometimes fatal, damage to the tissue. Signs of heartworm infection vary widely, and can include coughing, fatigue, exercise intolerance, abdominal swelling, and other symptoms associated with heart failure. However, infected animals may be completely asymptomatic (won’t show signs of illness) in early stages of the infection.
Preventing heartworm disease is safer and less expensive than treating an infected animal. Heartworm preventatives also treat for intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. We recommend testing adult animals for heartworm prior to starting on a preventive; puppies under 6 months of age may start on a heartworm preventive without testing. Annual testing for heartworm is highly recommended to ensure your pet’s continued safety.
For more information, please contact us.