Heartworms are not something you want to have to deal with – but Florida is one of the most at-risk states for the disease. Here are the top 5 things we think you should know…
1. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquito bites
Heartworm larvae live in mosquito’s saliva (yuck!) It only takes one bite for your pet to get infected. And only months to start spreading it to other mosquitos.
2. Heartworms live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels
Adult heartworms can grow up to 12 inches in length! That doesn’t leave much space for your pet’s body to work around. The symptoms of infection can include coughing, exercise intolerance, decreased appetite and weight loss. But your pet may not show symptoms until the heartworm infestation has been present for a while.
3. Heartworm “season” is year-round.
There are 22 species of mosquito known to carry heartworm larvae. They live all over the US, and are active in different seasons, climates, and times of the day. If your pet misses a couple months of prevention, it could take up to 6 months for us to know about an infection. We recommend year-round preventive and testing every 12 months to keep your pet protected.
4. Two kinds of cats get heartworm disease – indoor and outdoor (ferrets too!).
There have been no proven successful treatments for heartworm disease in cats or ferrets. We highly recommend year-round preventive for them – even if they only live inside. How many times has a mosquito bitten you while you sleep?
5. There is only one approved treatment for Heartworm disease in dogs.
According to the American Heartworm Society, there is only one effective treatment of heartworm disease – and treatment can cost up to 15x MORE than monthly preventive.
Statistics provided by Companion Animal Parasite Council Prevalence Maps at CAPCvet.org
Heartworm information available from The American Heartworm Society at HeartwormSociety.org