Heartworm can be caught by most animals in most of the world, but most importantly for us, it can be caught by cats and dogs too. Heartworm is a larvae which is passed to a dog or cat through the bite of a mosquito, and contrary to popular belief, it can’t be passed from animal to animal. However, although it can only be caught from the bite of a mosquito, it is more common than one would like, so in this article we will be discussing the signs to look out for, and the preventative measures you can take for your pet.
Heartworm larvae can grow into worms as long as 12 inches, and they live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of the animal that is infected. If left untreated this can be fatal, but it is treatable if caught in time, but treatment can also be expensive. Moreover, it can be difficult to tell if a dog or cat has heartworms, because it can take as long as 6 months or more for the heartworms to reach the adult stage. However, there are a few signs to look out for in our pets, like a mild persistent coughing in dogs, weight loss, decreased appetite and lethargy or fatigue.
In addition, in cats the symptoms are also difficult to spot, but a persistent mild cough is one sign, weight loss, vomiting and decreased appetite can also be signs of later stages of heartworms. Moreover, in the later stages of the infection, dogs may show signs of extreme difficulty in breathing and swelling in the chest and belly areas. Cats however, may have difficulty in walking in the later stages and may even faint, but may also have swollen belly or chest.
Although heartworm is treatable, it is usually very expensive, so the most recommended tip is a preventative, usually taken orally once per month. This preventative medication is a cheap alternative than risking the expense of getting heartworm treatment once they have caught it, especially in the advanced stages. Preventative medicines for heartworm can be acquired from your local vet, and may be solid or a chew which most dogs and cats take willingly, just be sure to talk to your vet about heartworm prevention so you can enjoy your pet for a long time.