All across America, vets begin testing dogs (and cats) for heart worm in April, which is why April is National Heart Worm Awareness Month. It used to be that heart worm was only prevalent in certain parts of the country. Unfortunately, it has now been detected in all 50 states, with the disease spreading to new regions of the country every year. For instance, after Hurricane Katrina, 250,000 pets with heart worm were sent across the country to be adopted.
What is Heart Worm?
Heart worm is a disease caused by foot-long worms (heart worms) that live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of affected pets, potentially causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. It can not only affect dogs and cats, but wolves, coyotes, ferrets and foxes as well. Heart worms live inside a dog, mature and mate, potentially causing several hundred heart worms in a dog.
How is Heart Worm Transmitted?
Heart worm is transmitted through infected mosquitoes. Once a pet is bitten it can take up to 6 months for the heart worms to grow. Heart worms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats. Fortunately, humans can’t get heart worm from their pets. Continue reading