Interview with Dr. Lara Sypniewski
Heartworms are very common in our area and can cause fatal disease in our pets.
In dogs, these large spaghetti-like worms live inside the heart, and lead to progressive heart disease. Adult heartworms produce their tiny larvae that circulate through the bloodstream to the surface of the dog’s skin. Mosquitoes transfer heartworms by ingesting the larvae with their blood meal, and then injecting them into the next animal they bite.
When the larvae are transferred to cats they migrate through the lungs and produce a serious asthma like condition. In cats, even one adult worm in the heart can be fatal. Heartworms can even cause disease in people when their immune systems aren’t functioning normally.
All it takes is a single bite from a mosquito for heartworms to enter the body and start their damage. Preventative medications for both dogs and cats are available from your veterinarian. These preventatives are given monthly to eliminate the larva before they develop. Yearly blood testing is done to ensure the worms are not present.
Protect your pet from the devastation of this disease by working with your veterinarian to prevent heartworms.