Heartworm Update in Dogs and Cats

Heartworm update in Dogs and Cats

We’ve known about heartworms in dogs for years, how pervasive the incidence is, especially in the South, and how deadly it is if left untreated. Today, there are numerous, very effective products used in dogs that will prevent heartworm infection. Dog owners have more choices than ever before to keep this awful parasite from infecting their pets.

A surprising trend

Yet, recent studies have showed that the incidence of heartworm infections in the United States has actually risen by over 20% in recent years. Perhaps there’s been a sense of complacency towards how deadly these worms are in dogs. Most folks have never seen, as we have, a dog that is in congestive heart failure from heartworms. Muscle wasting, a huge, fluid filled abdomen, pale gums, weakness to the point of not being able to walk are all terminal signs that accompany end stage heartworm disease.

What about cats?

In cats, more studies have shown that cats can indeed get heartworms, and surprisingly, indoor cats also get the disease. Various studies have shown an incidence of 8-10%. In fact a recent study conducted at Alamo Feline Hospital in San Antonio revealed a 10% infection rate of apparently healthy cats who are always indoors!

Although there is an heartworm adult treatment for dogs, it is very expensive compared to using a monthly preventive. Unfortunately so far in cats there is not a good adult heartworm treatment. So the need to keep BOTH YOUR DOG AND CAT on monthly heartworm prevention is still vital to your pets’ long term health.

Please, for the sake of your pet, keep Fido and Felix on their monthly heartworm prevention. At the Rannals Small Animal Hospital in Whitehouse, we have several from which to choose at various price points. This really is a situation where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.