Heartworm Awareness Month at the SPCA of Central Florida
By Sarah Ford on April 3, 2014
Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, can be fatal for dogs and cats. Because mosquitoes are present year round in Florida, our pets are constantly at risk from contracting the disease without protection. When an animal is bitten by an infected mosquito, adult parasitic heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) develop and live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of the host animal - your dog or cat! The worms travel through the bloodstream-harming arteries and vital organs as they go - ultimately completing their journey to the vessels of the lung and the heart chamber about six months after the initial infection. Several hundred worms can live in one dog for five to seven years.
Heartworm infestation can happen to any dog or cat but animals who live in hot, humid regions - conditions in which mosquitoes thrive-are at the greatest risk. Dogs die from heartworm disease while the infestation is rarely terminal in cats. Safe, effective prevention products are available for dogs and cats that range from topical drops to injections and even simple chewable tablets. Dogs must test negative for heartworms prior to beginning a preventative therapy. (If dogs have significant damage in their heart and lungs from heartworms, suddenly killing the heartworms with a preventative can cause complications for your dog.)
To help prevent heartworm disease, and help keep your pets happy and healthy, the SPCA of Central Florida is offering $15 heartworm testing for dogs during the month of May. We are also discounting heartworm prevention for dogs and cats $10 when you purchase at least a six month supply from our veterinary clinics.