How Heartworms Infest Dogs and Cats — And What You Can Do to Stop Them

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Most pet parents know what heartworm is, but do you know how this parasite is transmitted? Unlike fleas or ticks, who hop on of their own volition, the means by which a heartworm invades your pet’s body is much more insidious.

RELATED STORY: How Do Dogs and Cats Get Heartworm Disease?

Where the Mosquitoes Roam

To many parents’ surprise, this infestation begins with a mosquito. Mosquitoes are carriers of heartworm and can inject your pet with heartworm eggs with just one, unassuming bite.

From there, the eggs hatch and spread throughout your pet, making a home for themselves inside their heart and pulmonary artery. Once they mature, they lay some eggs of their own and the cycle continues. If another mosquito bites your pet, it ingests some of the eggs and the infection spreads to another dog or cat.

Heartworm can be a fatal condition, starting with a hacking cough, lethargy, and difficulty breathing.

RELATED STORY: What Happens When You Don’t Treat Heartworm?

Deal With Heartworm Before It’s a Problem

Treatment of a full-blown heartworm infestation can be physically draining on a pet, and is also going to cost a ton — some estimate it can range around $1,000!

All things considered, it is best to put your pet on a monthly heartworm medication before it’s too late.

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