Heartworm Disease FAQs

Animal General Discusses Heartworm Disease

If you have a pet, you should know about heartworm disease. It is a serious and possibly deadly disease. Typically, the parasite affects dogs, cats, and ferrets. It can also affect a variety of wild animals. The more you know about heartworm disease, the better you can protect your pet.

cat and dog without heartworm

How Is Heartworm Transmitted?

Heartworm is transmitted from animal to animal by mosquitoes. If your pet is bitten by an infected mosquito, he can develop the disease. It takes about three months for the larvae to become mature.

What Types Of Pets Should Be Tested For Heartworm?

All pets should be tested. Even if your pet spends most of the time in the house, he should still be tested. Cats who only stay inside should also be tested. Mosquitoes can get into the home; therefore, indoor cats are at risk.

How Will I Know If My Pet Is Infected?

The symptoms that your pet will show would depend on the pet. Dogs won't show any signs until the heartworms have matured. If your dog has this illness, he will develop a cough. He also may become lethargic, he could lose his appetite, and he may have trouble breathing. When the disease progresses, he might tire quickly after exercise.

If your cat has heartworm disease, he will develop a cough and can suffer from respiratory distress. Many cats with heartworm will vomit frequently. In very severe cases, your cat can die suddenly from the disease.

How Is Heartworm Treated?

Since this is a progressive disease, the sooner your pet is treated, the better his chances are of making a full recovery. Because of this, prevention is better than treatment. If you have a dog, he would need to remain in the hospital during the treatment. Your vet might prescribe a second medication to control the inflammatory reaction that is common when the worms die and are broken down in your dog's lungs.

If you have a cat, there is currently no safe and effective medication for heartworm. If your cat does get the disease, your vet will give him medication to reduce the inflammatory response. Surgery can also be performed to remove the heartworms.

How Can Heartworm Be Prevented?

There are heartworm medications that your pet can take to keep from developing heartworm. If your pet already has the disease, these medications won't treat or cure your pet. They are strictly used for preventative purposes.

Contact Our Animal General in NYC Today!

To keep your pet healthy and free from heartworm disease, you should make an annual visit with Animal General in New York City. During your pet's annual exam, your vet will prescribe a heartworm pill to keep your pet from getting the disease. If your pet has heartworm, the veterinarian at our veterinary clinic can begin heartworm treatment immediately.  

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