Heartworm Disease is Preventable.
It Affects Both Dogs
and Cats. Get Your
Pet Tested.

Heartworm Disease  


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Heartworm Disease in Dogs and Cats

Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Can my dog get heartworm disease?
Yes. Your dog can get heartworm disease, whether he's an "outside" dog or even if he stays inside most of the time. Dogs get heartworm disease from mosquitoes. It is the female mosquito that bites and transmits the infection. Female mosquitoes are very tiny and can easily slip through cracks around windows, doors or screens. Every dog can be at risk, indoors or out.

Are some dogs more susceptible than others?
Unfortunately, no dog, or breed of dog, is immune to heartworm disease. The mosquito that bites your dog could be carrying this common and deadly parasite. One bite from an infected mosquito is all it takes for your dog to become infected.

How can I know for sure if my dog already has heartworm?
The only way to know for sure is to have your family veterinarian examine and test your dog. The procedure is quick and easy. But don't delay in calling your veterinarian to arrange for a heartworm test. If your dog gets heartworm disease, treatment can be dangerous for him and expensive for you.

heartworms in an infected dogs heart

When is the right time to get my dog tested?
Mosquitoes, the carriers of heartworm disease, can be found at varying times of the year depending on the climate. Here at Minster Veterinary service we recommend testing every 3 years for dogs that are on year round prevention.  If you miss a dose, we need to wait 6 months before testing.  Heartworms will not show up positive on a test for 6 months after becoming infected.

How can I prevent my dog from getting heartworm disease in the future?
If your veterinarian determines that your dog is free of heartworms, he or she will tell you how easy and convenient prevention can be. It's important to follow your veterinarian's instructions; if you don't, your dog could still be at risk. Remember, the first, most important step is to have your dog tested for heartworms. We highly recommend year round prevention in our area.

What Does This Mean For All Dog Owners?
Now that greater numbers of people are traveling across the country with their dogs, on vacation or visiting friends and relatives, no state is entirely heartworm-free. Heartworm disease continues to pose a threat to dogs across the United States. Because heartworm disease is potentially fatal, owners should visit their family veterinarian to learn how easy and convenient prevention can be.

When Traveling, Help Protect Your Dog from Heartworm Disease

  1. Many states require that owners traveling with their dogs obtain an up-to-date health certificate from a licensed veterinarian.
  2. As a part of the examination, your veterinarian may check for heartworm disease. If your dog is not infected, the veterinarian can recommend preventive measures. Prevention is the key to protecting a dog both at home and away.
  3. Upon returning home from a trip, owners should revisit their family veterinarian for an examination to make sure their dog did not pick up any parasites, either internal (e.g., heartworm, hookworm, roundworm) or external (fleas and ticks).
  4. Remember, annual heartworm tests are important whether or not your dog is traveling.

 Heartworm Disease in Cats   Top

When it comes to heartworm disease, dogs and cats have a lot in common. But new research shows that in cats there is the potential for more severe reactions and even sudden death. Indoor cats are also at risk for heartworm disease.

Cases of heartworm disease in cats have been reported across the United States and many other countries. Heartworm disease is most common in areas where dogs are also at risk.

What are the signs?
The most common signs of heartworm disease in cats - coughing , vomiting, breathing difficulties, weight loss, and lethargy - are often mistaken for other conditions such as asthma, pneumonia and digestive problems. In fact, most common clinical signs of heartworm disease in cats resembles bronchial asthma.

Once a cat is diagnosed with heartworm disease, managing the disease can be difficult. Treatment, as well as non-treatment, is very risky, because there's currently no approved product for treating adult heartworms, and the onset of clinical signs is impossible to predict in cats that are left untreated. Even if the disease is treated, your cat may experience severe complications or even death when the worms die. Prevention is the best medicine. At Minster Veterinary Service we currently do not generally recommend prevention for your cat. If you wish to use prevention please ask us and we will get it for you.

What is heartworm disease in cats?
Heartworm disease in cats is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by Dirofilaria immitis. This is the same parasite that causes heartworm disease in dogs but new research shows a potential for more severe reactions and even sudden death in cats.

How do cats get heartworm disease?
Cats get heartworm disease the same way dogs get it. Mosquitoes transmit the disease by biting an infected animal, then passing the infection on to other animals they bite.

Where are cats at risk for heartworm infection?
Cats are at risk wherever dogs are at risk, including cats that live indoors. In fact, some studies estimate that 70% of cats may be at risk in areas where there are heartworm-infected dogs.

What are the signs of heartworm disease in cats?
Common signs of infection are:

  • Coughing
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Vomiting
  • Sluggishness
  • Weight loss

Other more acute signs are:

  • Collapse
  • Convulsions
  • Sudden death

These signs may also be seen with other feline diseases. Ask your veterinarian about your cat's risk for heartworm disease.


The Merial Company offers a free reminder service for monthly heartworm prevention.  To sign up for this free offer click on the link below. http://us.merial.com/pet_owners/reminder_services/index.asp



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