What It Is and What Causes It

Heartworm disease is a serious disease that results in lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and death in pets, including dogs, cats, and ferrets. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis.

The worms are spread through the bite of a mosquito. The adult worms live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of the infected animal giving it the name “heartworm”. Heartworm disease is not contagious, meaning a dog cannot catch the disease from being near an infected dog.

There is no Vaccine for heartworm disease. That is why it is so important to get your pets on a preventive program. It is best to start this when they are young, however, it can be started at any age. This is an important part of your pet’s wellness regimen due to the serious nature of the disease. As mentioned above, there is a possibility of death.

Testing For Heartworm

Blood tests are used by veterinarians to check a dog or cat for heartworms. The timing and frequency of heartworm testing depend on several factors to include: the pets age, when heart worm prevention is started, or if the pet has traveled to an area where heartworm disease is more common. Dogs and cats that are 7 months of age and older should be tested for heartworm before starting heartworm prevention. Annual testing of all dogs and cats for heartworm prevention is recommended.

Heartworm preventions help protect animals against the possibility of heartworm infection, as well as other worms such as hookworm, roundworm and whipworm. Because of this, it is recommended to keep your pet on preventives even if you do not live in an area with a high prevalence of heart worm. This becomes an even stronger recommendation when there are children in the household as all of these infections are zoonotic – meaning they can be passed on to humans.

At Slaton Veterinary Hospital, we provide you with the best General Wellness Services that keep your pets healthy and happy. This includes wellness exams, blood testing, vaccination and microchipping. We our located in the City of Westlake Village. To book an appointment call 805-269-6696 or go online.