What? You say it’s not December, and that much is true. But May tis the season to be worried! Worried about heartworms that is. In all actuality we should be worried year-round about heartworms because in the southeast US, heartworm disease is a year-round concern. And for those that aren’t aware, heartworm disease is not just limited to dogs. Cats can develop heartworms and do so at a similar rate that they contract Feline Leukemia Virus infections.

So here are the facts:

  1. Heartworms are spread to dogs and cats by mosquitoes. You know, those pesky little blood-suckers that attack you and me! Remember how mild our winter was this year? If not, the mosquitoes sure do, because they never died off this winter! In fact, Orkin recently ranked Charlotte #9 on their top 50 list of “Mosquito Cities”. (Move over cardinals, we have a new state bird)
  2. It takes 6 months from initial exposure until the heartworms are mature in the heart of dogs and the lungs of cats.
  3. Dogs- Heartworm tests, preventatives, and treatments are very safe and effective.
  4. Cats- Heartworm tests are not reliable. There is no approved treatment. Prevention is the best and ONLY answer.
  5. Many heartworm positive pets are indoor-only or indoor-primarily.
  6. Permanent heart and lung damage will occur with heartworm disease and worse yet death can occur. Oftentimes in cats, sudden death is the only sign of heartworm disease.
  7. The American Heartworm Society ( www.heartwormsociety.org ) recently released the Heartworm Incidence Map for 2016. 
  8. If you didn’t study the map, scroll up and look again. And then look at North Carolina. And then look at the Charlotte region. We are the darkest red and that is scary.

So, what should you do?

Dog owners: Have your dog tested annually (whether on prevention or not). Give heartworm prevention, on schedule, year-round. We use and recommend- Proheart, Trifexis, Interceptor Plus, and Heartgard. If possible, avoid mosquito laden areas. If that is not reality for you, consider using a mosquito repelling product like Vectra 3-D when in those areas. (Vectra 3-D is NOT a heartworm preventative. It is for fleas and ticks and will repel mosquitoes)

Cat owners: Keep your cats on heartworm prevention year round, even if they are indoor only. We recommend and sell Revolution. The beauty of Revolution is that it prevents heartworms in cats and also kills fleas, ear mites, and some intestinal worms.

 

Remember it only takes one mosquito bite. I had a mosquito come through my front door with me last night and she wasn’t even invited!

As usual, feel free to call or email me with any questions or concerns. Heartworm disease is a reality. Sadly, it is a reality that is entirely preventable.

 

All the best,

Stephen E Foster, DVM, CCRT

Foster Animal Hospital, P.A.

Foster Animal Clinic at Parkway Commons

Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center

730 Concord Parkway North

Concord, NC 28027

704-786-0104

sfoster@fosteranimalhospital.com