Heartworm infection is acquired by a dogs and cats through the bite of an infected mosquito. It penetrates the tissue of an infected animal then migrates to the pet’s bloodstream from which it enters his heart and lungs. Surveys of veterinary clinics conducted by the American Heartworm Society, cited by the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), indicate that heartworm infections are increasing in number and are occurring in areas of the country where they were not previously reported.
Heartworm disease is transmitted from pet to pet through mosquitoes. It affects thousands of dogs throughout the United States and can be fatal if left untreated. Symptoms can include coughing, sluggishness and difficulty breathing, though some pets might show no outward, clinical signs at all.
Over time, however, damage to your pet’s heart and lungs can be severe. It can include:
- Damage to the lining of the artery leading from the heart to the lungs (pulmonary artery)
- Clogging of the pulmonary artery
- Heart valve malfunction
- Heart enlargement and failure
Moreover, heartworms can live in an infected dog for 5 to 7 years! During all that time, the worms are living, breeding, and dying. And your dog’s body has to fight the effects of the damage they do.
Heartworm disease also occurs in cats. In cats, however, a single heartworm can cause severe disease and even kill a cat. Cats are infected in the same way that dogs are, through the bite of an infected mosquito.
For more information about Heartworm disease, please visit: http://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/heartworm.html