7 Things You Need To Know About Heartworms




Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs, cats, and ferrets.  Heartworms are a foot-long worm that lives in the heart, lungs and associated vessels.  This week Dr. Coffin will discuss some important and interesting facts about heartworms.




  • Heartworm disease is prevalent in all 50 states.
  • It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to infect your pet.
  • It takes six months after being bitten by a mosquito for the worm to reach the heart.
  • It is 15 times more expensive to treat heartworms than to prevent.
  • There is only one approved treatment for heartworms in dogs.
  • There is no approved treatment for heartworms in cats.
  • 1 million dogs in the United States have heartworms.

The mosquito is the world’s deadliest animals, killing 725,000 people yearly.  There are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes worldwide.  176 of these species live in the United States, and 22 of them can carry and transmit heartworms.  They can survive and thrive in a variety of climates and environments.  Which is one of the reasons that the American Cancer Society recommends heartworm prevention for twelve months out of the year.

A heartworm positive dog in your neighborhood substantially increases the risk of infection to healthy dogs.  An average of 7 in 10 mosquitos in a heartworm positive dog’s kennel carry heartworms.  Since 2013, the average number of heartworm positive dogs per clinic is up by 22 percent nationwide.

Why are heartworms increasing?

  • Owners aren’t giving heartworm prevention all year around.
  • Owners are missing doses.
  • Weather trends are causing an increase in mosquitoes.
  • Fewer owners are giving heartworm prevention.

Heartworm prevention:

There are many options for you to protect your pet from heartworms.  The most common heartworm preventatives are given monthly either orally or topically.  Many of these products also contain medication to treat and prevent flea and tick infestations.  There is one injectable product for dogs only that lasts for six months.

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