Heartworm disease is a very dangerous and often fatal disease that occurs in multiple animals. Many assume that it is only present in domestic dogs, but heartworms can infect wolves, coyotes, foxes, and cats. This presents the reason why it is so transmittable. The disease is transmitted via mosquito and is present in all fifty states. Though cats can not usually host the full lifespan of the heartworm, they can certainly serve as transmitters of the disease while they are carrying them. The heartworms typically die off once in the system of the cat.
The adult, female heartworms residing in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of an infected animal, deposit tiny, baby worms into the bloodstream. These worms are then picked up by a mosquito bite and transferred to another animal via another bite after an incubation period. Once inside a new animal, the heartworms take approximately six months to fully develop. Each animal can be infected multiple times throughout the mosquito season as well. This is the only way that heartworms are transmitted between animals. Heartworm disease cannot be passed from animal to animal without the mosquito. The adult, mature heartworms can live about five to seven years in a host animal, often causing irreversible damage and even death.
Signs and symptoms of heartworm disease may include fatigue, resistance to exercise, loss of appetite, weight loss, and a mild cough. As the disease progresses, the belly may appear bloated due to fluid build-up, and the animal will suffer heart and/or lung failure. Treatment is available and should be administered as early as possible upon a positive heartworm test by a veterinarian. Unfortunately, our veterinarians treat many dogs at the rescue for heartworm disease. Most pets go on to live happy, healthy lives, but the damage done may be irreversible. This is why prevention is so important. Dogs and puppies over six months of age can be tested for heartworms by a simple blood test. Prevention begins with a negative test and should be done regularly and faithfully. Tests should be given every year thereafter, as heartworm prevention is not 100% guaranteed. We are more than happy to provide heartworm prevention at our Spay & Neuter Clinic after a negative test is administered. Please call the clinic for more information.
Two Convenient Locations
1929 West Market Street
Akron, OH 44313
(behind Walgreen's and AutoZone)
Spay & Neuter Clinic
1700 West Exchange Street
Akron, OH 44313
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