Living in North Carolina, most of us are familiar about the dangers of heartworm disease for our dogs and cats. Heartworms are exactly what they sound like, long (up to 12 inches) worms that live in the pulmonary arteries and hearts of our canine and feline best friends. As heartworm disease progresses, more numerous worms can cause heart disease, heart failure, difficulty breathing, collapse, and death. And YES we said dogs and cats! Our feline friends can have severe respiratory disease as a result of very few heartworms in their hearts which can cause chronic medical issues and difficulty breathing requiring lifelong medications.
But WHERE does heartworm disease come from? Maybe you have heard of it but are unsure… It comes from MOSQUITOES-one of the most common insects in North Carolina! Did you know that it only has to be 50 degrees for mosquito to start hatching?! We also know that mosquitoes THRIVE in humid climates (very much like that of North Carolina). We literally have days that are in the 50 degree range YEAR ROUND here so that means that truly your cat or dog needs 12 months of protection. We all know that there are some months (typically April-October) where we have a heavier load of mosquitoes, but in the south, mosquitoes are ABSOLUTELY a year round menace. Even for an INDOOR pet we find that mosquitoes are able to sneak through windows and ride in through an open door and we often see them in our houses, so yes, even your indoor dog or cat would benefit from prevention.
The other thing that we know is that it is MUCH easier and safer to PREVENT this disease then to treat it. In cats there is NO safe treatment to kill adult worms. In dogs, the only medication we have available is a heavy anti-parasitic that we use to kill these adult worms. It can be painful at the injection site and dogs can have a number of adverse reactions to the product including anaphylaxis and death.
Heartworm prevention has come a VERY long way!!! Years ago, you may remember that we had daily Filaribits to prevent heartworm disease which had to be given on a DAILY basis to ensure adequate protection and had a number of scary side effects. Today, thankfully we have other AMAZING options for preventing this disease in dogs and cats. We have MONTHLY oral heartworm prevention products (like TriHeart and Heartgard) as well as SIX months of protection in ONE dose of ProHeart (an injectable heartworm prevention product given at Amelia Grace Animal Hospital) for dogs. We also have great products for cats like Revolution Plus that are applied as topical products on a monthly basis.
We are so BLESSED to live in this beautiful, warm state. We get to enjoy the mountains and the coast, great outdoor life, beautiful seasons and southern hospitality. We also have to endure mosquitoes-since we cannot prevent the bite, make sure to protect your best fur friend. Let us know if you have any questions and we would be happy to talk more with you about heartworm disease.