We’re addressing common heartworm myths for National Heartworm Awareness Month. We know heartworm disease is a confusing topic, but we’re here to help!
Myth: Only dogs get heartworms
Truth: Heartworms can infect any mammal, including people. While dogs and wild canines are this parasite’s preferred hosts, heartworms can also infect your feline friend.
Myth: Indoor pets don’t need heartworm prevention
Truth: Mosquitoes are sneaky little pests and can easily slip inside your home, infecting your pet with heartworms. Your indoor-only cat can be infected by a mosquito that flies in an open door or a tiny hole in a window screen. Year-round heartworm prevention is a must for every pet in your home.
Myth: Heartworm disease is not a serious concern
Truth: Heartworm disease can be fatal if left untreated, yet treatment is a months-long, difficult process for dogs, and there is no heartworm treatment for cats. If your dog contracts a heartworm infection, they will be required to remain exercise-restricted throughout the entire process. Complications can also occur during treatment, making this disease much more serious.
Myth: Pets don’t need heartworm prevention in the winter
Truth: Mosquitoes are hardy creatures and can pop back up as soon as temperatures rise above freezing. Unpredictably warm temperatures in winter can offer mosquitoes the opportunity to infect your pet with heartworms, which makes year-round prevention essential.
Myth: I’ll know if my pet has heartworm disease
Truth: Once your pet has been bitten by an infected mosquito, heartworm infection is not detectable in your pet for six months. During that time, the heartworm larvae reach adulthood as they migrate from the bite zone to the blood vessels and surround your pet’s heart and lungs. At this point only, you may notice heartworm signs, such as a mild cough or slight exercise intolerance, in your dog. Cats may show no signs but can suddenly collapse or die without warning. Without annual testing and year-round prevention, your pet may be harboring a hidden heartworm infection.
Make sure to schedule an annual wellness exam for your furry friend to protect them from heartworm disease.