Everyone has heard of heartworms and about how dangerous they are for your pet. But what are heartworms and how dangerous are we talking? In honor of National Heartworm Awareness Month, Texas Humane Heroes will be working to spread heartworm awareness throughout the month of April.
Animals can get heartworms from a mosquito bite and the effects can be severe. These worms reside within the heart, lungs and blood vessels of the inflicted host. Heartworms can lead to heart failure and lung disease as well as damage to other organs too. Dogs, cats and other mammalian pets can all get heartworms.
Dogs are the most common pet to get heartworms and the worms thrive within canines. If left as is, heartworms will grow to adults and reproduce, causing even more damage to the host. Cats are less likely, but can still be affected by heartworms, the process however, is different from dogs. When a cat gets a heartworm, the worm doesn’t spread like in dogs. Most times they never reach the adult stage and there are only a few heartworms versus potentially hundreds in a dog. This may sound like cats have a better chance with heartworms but that’s not necessarily the case. Since cats are less affected, their heartworm condition can go unnoticed and just because they aren’t adult worms doesn’t mean they can’t cause serious damage to vital organs. There are treatments that can be administered to dogs with heartworms but there is no medication for cats. Overall, prevention is your best bet in avoiding heartworm issues.
Can heartworms be spread from an affected animal to a healthy one? Yes but only through a mosquito carrier. If a mosquito bites an already heartworm positive animal it can then go on to bite another and give that animal heartworms. How do you know if your dog has heartworms? Early symptoms in dogs can include coughing, exhaustion, lack of appetite and weight loss. For cats, symptoms are either subtle or very obvious. Some common signs in cats are coughing, vomiting, lack of appetite and weight loss. In order to prevent your beloved furry family members from getting heartworms, be sure to give them a monthly medication to protect them. We offer testing through our Low-Cost Vaccination Clinic, then you can purchase preventative at our adoption centers!
Since 2014, Texas Humane Heroes has been able to help dozens of heartworm positive dogs receive treatment and find their forever families. With your help and support through donations and fostering, we are able to continue treating heartworm positive pets!
Now you know a lot more about heartworm prevention, symptoms and treatment! Spread the word to fellow animal lovers and help Texas Humane Heroes raise heartworm awareness!