Heartworms are transmitted by the bite of a mosquito and the microfilaria (immature heartworms) enter the bloodstream. Over a period of 4-6 months, they develop into adult heartworms that are capable of producing their own “offspring” (microfilaria).
Once the adult heartworms have occupied the heart, the patient can develop numerous secondary problems as a result of the disrupted blood flow caused by the worms. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Damaged pulmonary arteries and aneurysms
- Heart failure
- Secondary immune mediated disease
- Caval syndrome (interruption of the return of blood to the heart)
Luckily for dogs, heartworm disease is treatable. There is currently not a treatment for cats. (Click here to learn about the 7 Deadly Truths about heartworm disease in cats, courtesy of the American Heartworm Society.)
More importantly, this deadly condition is preventable. Here in the south, where heartworm disease is endemic, heartworm prevention is crucial. Annual heartworm tests to make sure your pet hasn’t already been exposed are also key. Call 843-875-6303 to schedule a test today!