In the past decade, the number of heartworm cases has actually increased, despite the availability of effective preventative medications. Dogs require year-round preventative treatment and annual testing. Many owners only give their dogs heartworm preventatives during the summer months, but year-round treatment avoid problems caused by inadvertent lapses during the peak months of heartworm infestations. In addition, modern preventatives also safeguard against several other parasites with varying seasonality. Also, when individuals vacation over the winter and bring their pets, they may inadvertently expose the animals to heartworm without year-round preventative therapy. Others may only give their animals the preventative treatment every other month, but this creates lapses, during which infections may occur.
Cats prove less susceptible to heartworm than dogs and no effective treatment for cats exists, making it imperative that they receive heartworm preventatives whenever there is a risk of exposure. Even cats housed indoors should receive preventatives, especially in regions with high numbers of reported cases. States in the southeastern parts of the United States have the highest number of heartworm cases.
Some owners express concern that current preventatives are not 100 percent effective against modern strains of heartworm. Only pet owners in the Southeast, including Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Louisiana, need to worry about this and all current offerings prove at least 95 percent effective. In this region, owners should discuss different preventative therapies available to choose the one that will most effectively protect their animals.
Heartworm is a parasitic worm that resides in an animal’s arteries, lungs, and heart. Mosquitoes spread the disease by biting an infected animal and then biting another dog or cat and releasing worm larvae into the blood stream. Newly infected animals show no signs of heartworm, but heavily infected dogs and cats often cough, begin eating less, experience periods of inactivity, and fatigue easily. Treatment generally requires hospitalization and the administration of a potent drug, which kills adult worms, as well as preventative medications, which eliminate larva. In general, treatment requires one or two months.
About The Animal Medical Center
With a staff of 350 trained employees and 80 veterinarians, The Animal Medical Center handles more than 50,000 cases each year in its state-of-the-art facilities. Located in New York City, the hospital has developed a reputation for excellence among New York pet owners. The Animal Medical Center provides a full range of services for pet owners, from general checkups to advanced oncology, endocrinology, and dentistry.