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Heartworm Disease Explained

Published on December 3, 2014

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Heartworm is Dangerous for Dogs and Fatal for Cats

Contracting heartworm disease is a very real threat to our pets, both cats and dogs. Pets get heartworm disease from mosquitos, which inject heartworm larvae when they feed. These larvae subsequently develop into adult worms in the heart of the dog or the large lung vessels of the cat.

In the dog, the heart straining to pump blood around these worms can eventually lead to congestive heart failure, usually in about 2-3 years.  Treating dogs with heartworm disease has its own risks and is expensive, with costs equivalent to buying 10 years of heartworm prevention.  Also, treatment will not reverse the heart damage if it has been ongoing for awhile.

In cats the situation is a bit different. Heartworms in your cat are apt to cause chronic bronchitis and coughing, although when the worms die (usually after 1-2 years) they can cause an acute shock to the lung that results in the sudden death of your cat.  Because of the reactivity of the cat lung, treatment of heartworm disease in cats, once established, is impossible.

Because of the serious consequences of contracting Heartworm disease in both species,  we recommend that both the dog and cat members of your family be on some form of Heartworm Preventative medication. This medicine is typically either an oral or topical product used once monthly year round to kill the larvae that a mosquito injects BEFORE they can develop into adult worms and do damage. Prevention is the only option for cats and is the best option for the health of dogs.

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