Mosquitoes transmit heartworm infection. Heartworms can cause lift threatening disease in both dogs and cats. These parasites can severely and sometimes fatally damage the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Some pets may not show any signs of infection – in those that do, symptoms can vary widely.
In dogs, signs of heartworm disease can range from coughing, fatigue, and weight loss and progress to difficulty breathing and a swollen abdomen (caused by fluid accumulation from heart failure). Canine heartworm infection can also lead to a life-threatening complication called “caval syndrome” (a form of liver failure); without prompt surgical intervention, this condition usually causes death.
Although previously thought not to be susceptible to heartworm infection, cats can get heartworms. Cats can suffer from a syndrome referred to as heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD). The symptoms can be subtle and may mimic those of asthma or allergic bronchitis. Signs of respiratory distress, such as rapid or difficult breathing, wheezing, and coughing are common. Other symptoms include vomiting (typically unrelated to eating), and loss of appetite or weight. Heartworm infection is more difficult to diagnose in cats than it is in dogs.
Treatment for heartworm infection is far more expensive than prevention. Dogs can even die due to complications of treatment. There is no approved treatment for cats and though some cats spontaneously clear the infection, others can have fatal complications . Even one or two adult heartworms in a cat can cause serious disease..
Fortunately, by administering monthly heartworm preventives you can keep your dog or cat safe from these parasites. Most heartworm medications also protect your pet against other parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, ear mites, fleas, and ticks. We can recommend the best regimen of prevention for your pet.