Heartworm, A Silent Threat to Pets

Mar 14, 2017

 

Jax, a beautiful 2 yr old Male Tuxedo cat-super friendly-looking for a forever home.

  

Link to Central Brevard Humane Society

 

 Dogs suffering from heartworms are, in fact, infested by the organism Dirofilaria immitis, a parasitic nematode (roundworm) commonly referred to as the heartworm. The severity of this disease is directly dependent upon the number of worms present in the body, the duration of the infestation, and the response of the host (the infested dog is the host).

 

In regions where Dirofilaria immitis is endemic, dogs without proper heartworm protection are almost 100 percent likely to suffer from heartworm infestation. The heartworm is mainly endemic in geographic areas with tropical and subtropical climates, and is also commonly found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, and the Ohio and Mississippi river basins. The presence of Dirofilaria immitis is not limited to these areas, however, it is found worldwide. Dogs have been diagnosed with heartworm disease in all 50 U.S. states.

 

Heartworm disease is preventable with the administration of a heartworm prophylaxis (preventative) medication, as recommended by a veterinarian. For those dogs that do contract heartworm disease, the prognosis is good for mild to moderate cases, and such conditions can be relatively uneventful. Dogs with more severe cases may suffer from lung complications resulting from extreme medication given to kill serious infestations.

 

Heartworm in cats is caused by infestation of the organism Dirofilaria immitis, a parasitic nematode (roundworm) commonly referred to as the heartworm. The severity of this disease is directly dependent upon the number of worms present in the body, the duration of the infestation, and the response of the host (the infested cat is the host).

 

The prevalence rate of heartworm disease in unprotected cats that have not received the proper preventative medication, or prophylaxis, is significantly lower than that of unprotected dogs -- approximately one-tenth the rate of dogs. Additionally, most cats have only a few heartworms present, and the worms infecting cats are physically smaller and have a shorter lifespan than those infecting dogs. Outdoor cats are at increased risk, and are twice as likely to contract heartworm disease as indoor cats.