As a pet owner, you want to do everything you can to protect your beloved pets. After all, they’re family. That’s why the last thing you want is to let them become sick due to a preventable illness.


Even though it’s completely preventable, heartworms are a deadly disease that claims the lives of beloved family pets every day. At Normandale Vet Hospital, our veterinary clinic team works hard to protect your pet from heartworms and other preventable illnesses. In this post, we’ll talk about how heartworms harm our pets and what you need to do to keep that from happening.


What are Heartworms?

Heartworms are a common type of worm that primarily affects dogs. These worms are a foot long and live in the circulatory system and lungs of a host animal. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. These insects spread heartworms when they bite an infected pet.


As they ingest the pet’s blood, they also ingest microfilaria or larval worms. Over the course of the next six months, these larvae mature, eventually becoming harmful adult heartworms. Infections in cats are rare, but those who do become infected can develop a heartworm-associated respiratory disease known as HARD.


Heartworm infections most commonly occur in these animals:


●        Dogs

●        Coyotes

●        Wolves

●        Foxes

●        Sea lions


Preventing Heartworms

The best way to keep your pets safe is to prevent heartworm transmission to begin with. It is also the only way you can protect your pet cat against damage from heartworms. If your dog is infected, medication can be prescribed for milder cases of heartworms.


Although severe cases can be treated, complications from these cases are highly likely. However, cats are unable to take the medication for heartworms. While it is possible in some cases to remove these worms via surgery, it is less likely to be a possibility in cats. Ultimately, the best approach is to avoid infection.



Symptoms Your Pet is Infected

Infected cats will typically have difficulty walking, seizures, fainting, periodic vomiting, and attacks similar to asthma. Advanced cases of heartworm infection among cats and dogs can result in heart failure, labored breathing, cardiovascular collapse, and abdominal fluid retention. Pale gums and dark, coffee-colored urine are both signs of advanced-stage heartworm infection.


Milder symptoms of the condition include the following:


●        Weight loss

●        Reduced appetite

●        Fatigue from exercise

●        Mild but persistent cough

●        Lack of desire to exercise


Preventing Heartworm Disease in Your Dog or Cat

One of the best things you can do for your pet is to schedule a regular check-up to get an update on their overall health. Visit our hospital if you see any symptoms of heartworm disease or to learn about heartworm prevention.


With regular care, your cat or dog will live a long and healthy life. Call our veterinary team to get your pet’s appointment at 952-831-8272 or message us on our contact page to schedule a visit.