Importance of Heartworm Prevention

Heartworm Disease – What Is It and What Causes It?

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite, dirofilaria immitis, which is transmitted by mosquitos. A mosquito can pick up the parasite in its microscopic stage by feeding on an infected animal, such as a dog, cat, coyote, raccoon, opossum, or wolf.

Once inside the pet’s body, the microfilaria travel through the blood stream and take up residence in the heart, lungs, and accompanying blood vessels. Over a period of several months to a year, the worms can grow up to 12 inches in length. They wreak havoc on the pet’s internal organs, causing significant damage and suffering. If not treated, the pet will eventually die.

If caught early, heartworm can be treated in dogs. However treatment is expensive and painful. Treatment is expensive because it requires multiple visits to the veterinarian, blood tests, x-rays, hospitalization, and a series of injections. It may require months of confinement. In cats, heartworm is not treatable and often results in death.

Is Heartworm in Colorado? 

Answer, yes. We’ve diagnosed several positive cases of heartworm at our clinic.

While we have a lower incidence of heartworm disease in Colorado, as compared to the other parts of the country, heartworm disease is found in all 50 states. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) considers Colorado a red state. Local mosquitos have been found to be carriers of the heartworm parasite.

The Many Benefits Of Heartworm Prevention

A simple monthly medication is all that is required to prevent heartworm. Not only does the medication prevent heartworm, most also include medication designed to kill common intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Because roundworms and hookworms can be transmitted to people, it is yet another reason to have your pet on a heartworm preventive.

Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center Can Help

If you haven’t started your pet on a heartworm preventive medication, we are here to help. Give us a call to set up an appointment or to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about heartworm prevention.