FAQ’s About Heartworms


My animals rarely go outside. Can they get heartworms?
Yes, heartworm infections have been reported in dogs that rarely go outside and in inside cats. If a mosquito carrying heartworm infected larvae enters the house, it can bite your dog and the larvae may infect your dog. Even during a short trip outside, your pet can be bitten. It takes only one bite from the wrong mosquito to develop heartworm disease.

 

How can I tell if my pet has heartworm infection or disease?
Dogs: If your dog has been recently infected with heartworms, it may show no signs of illness until the adult worms have developed in the lungs. As the disease progresses, your dog may cough, become lethargic, lose its appetite or have difficulty breathing. You may notice your dog seems to tire rapidly after only moderate exercise. If left untreated the disease will lead to heart failure and death.
Cats: Signs of possible heartworm disease in cats include coughing, respiratory distress, vomiting. In rare cases, a cat may suddenly die. The diagnosis of heartworm infection in cats is much more difficult that it is with dogs. A series of tests may be necessary.

 

Are heartworms contagious between pets?
No. In order to become infected with heartworms, a pet has to be fed on by an infected mosquito.

 

How many months a year does me pet need preventive?
Twelve.

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How do I protect my pet from heartworms?
There are oral, topical and injectable medications available. These medications are not available over the counter and all should be purchased from a veterinarian or other reputable distributor. Heartworm prevention can cost as low as $5 per month. Tell your veterinarian if you are on a limited budget as there are lower-cost medications available. Although the lower cost medications may not provide protections for all parasites (worms and fleas), the most important of the parasites you must protect your pet against are heartworms.