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Mosquito bites can be dangerous to your pets! A single bite from a mosquito infected with the heartworm larvae will infect your pet with heartworms. It takes about six months from the time your pet is bit by an infected mosquito for the larvae to mature and cause dangerous and possibly life-threatening conditions to your pet. Heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states. There is no way to know if a mosquito is infected with heartworms. Year-round heartworm prevention is critical in protecting your pet from becoming infected.

How will heartworms affect my dog?

The adult heartworms lodge into your dogs, heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels and begin to reproduce. As the worms continue to grow and reproduce they can span up to 12 inches in length. The mature heartworms begin to crowd the heart and lungs and most dogs will develop a cough. They will then show signs of lethargy and become winded easier. In severe cases, a dog can pass out from loss of blood to the brain. Untreated, dogs in most cases will die.

How will heartworms affect my cat?

Signs in cats are much harder to detect and sometimes the first and only sign is collapse and sudden death. Symptoms can include fainting or seizures from the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen or asthma-like coughs and weight loss.

Why I should get the heartworm test and when?

The sooner heartworms are detected in your pet the better chances of recovery.

  • Dogs – You veterinarian will take small sample of blood to see if heartworm proteins exist. All dogs should be tested annually and this can be done during your pet’s annual physical exam. It is recommended that this test be done annually even if your pet is on heartworm prevention to make sure the preventative is working. Just one late dose or skipped dosage opens your dog up to being infected.
  • Cats – There is no FDA approved treatment for heartworm infection in cats. Therefore, heartworm prevention is the only way to protect your cat. Heartworms do not usually fully develop in cats like in dogs, so the preferred screening method is an antigen and antibody test that looks for heartworm larvae.

How can I prevent my pet from getting heartworms?

It is recommended that your pet stay on a year-round heartworm preventative. Your veterinarian must do a heartworm test before you can start your pet on heartworm prevention. Treatment for an infected pet can be costly so it is best and the safest to have your pet on a year round preventative.

If my pet was infected with heartworms, can they get it again or give to another pet?

Yes, a pet can continue to get infected as long as an infected mosquito bites them. This is why year round heartworm prevention is the best way to ensure your pet is safe. Since heartworms are only transmitted through a bite of an infected mosquito, an infected pet cannot infect their owner or other pets in the home.

Dr. Alex of Pet Xpert Animal Clinic offers heartworm tests and a full line of heartworm preventatives. Call today and schedule your heartworm test. Florida is full of lakes and standing water. Don’t risk having your pet infected. Call today to schedule your appointment at 407-886-PETS (7387).