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Sanford, Maine 04073

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Heartworm


Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a fairly large worm, up to 14 inches long, that in adulthood, lives in the heart and pulmonary arteries of an infected dog. Dogs acquire this infection through mosquito bites as mosquitoes readily pick up larval heartworms from infected dogs and carry them to new dogs. Some geographic areas have severe heartworm problems while other areas have virtually none, however heartworm has been reported in all the 50 states.

Prevention
Every dog that is not on heartworm preventative is at risk for acquiring heartworm.
Prevention of heartworms is easy! We recommend giving heartworm preventative to dogs once a month, year round permanently.

Tri-Heart Plus
Protect your dog against heartworms, roundworms and hookworms.
Please note that Tri-Heart Plus is only guaranteed when purchased from a licensed veterinarian.


Testing
Dogs should be tested FIRSTů before starting heartworm preventatives unless they are less than 7 months old. Dogs over 7 months of age that have started on preventative without first testing for heartworm are at an increased risk of developing severe reactions. Puppies should be started on heartworm preventative by 8 weeks of age (depending on the product being used) and then blood tested at 7 months of age.
Dogs should be tested on a regular basis, yearly if any doses of preventative have been missed and once every 2 years even if no doses were missed and preventative is given year around.


Symptoms
For both dogs and cats, clinical signs of heartworm disease may not be recognized in the early stages, as the number of heartworms in an animal tends to accumulate gradually over a period of months and sometimes years and after repeated mosquito bites.

Recently infected dogs may exhibit no signs of the disease, while heavily infected dogs may eventually show clinical signs, including a mild, persistent cough, reluctance to move or exercise, fatigue after only moderate exercise, reduced appetite and weight loss.

Cats may exhibit clinical signs that are very nonspecific, mimicking many other feline diseases. Chronic clinical signs include vomiting, gagging, difficulty or rapid breathing, lethargy and weight loss. Signs associated with the first stage of heartworm disease, when the heartworms enter a blood vessel and are carried to the pulmonary arteries, are often mistaken for feline asthma or allergic bronchitis, when in fact they are actually due to a syndrome newly defined as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD).

Treatment
While treatment for heartworm disease in dogs is possible, it is a complicated and expensive process, taking weeks for infected animals to recover.

Click here to learn about treating heartworm infection and why it's better to PREVENT heartworm infection rather than TREAT it.




Feline Heartworm
While it is true that feline heartworm infection is not as common as the canine infection, the feline infection has recently been found to be a much more widespread problem than previously believed. In the past, a common statistic was that within a given geographic area, the feline heartworm infection rate was approximately 10% of the canine infection rate. Recent research indicates this is not so; in heartworm endemic areas, the incidence of feline heartworm infection rivals or surpasses that of feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus . An incidence of 2% to 14% of all cats has been reported for endemic areas, making heartworm a concern for any cat living where there are mosquitoes.

Ask your veterinarian more about Feline Heartworm.