What Is Heartworm and Why Is it So Deadly to Cats and Dogs?



You may have heard your vet talk about the importance of heartworm preventatives, or maybe you’ve heard other pet parents talking about it. But what exactly is heartworm, and does your pet really need protection from it?

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A Deadly Parasite

Heartworms are gross parasitic worms that grow inside dogs and cats and feed off their blood. They mature in the heart, and can clog arteries and cause all sorts of terrible health problems — even death. So the answer is, yes, your pet needs to be protected!

All Over the US

Heartworms are transmitted to pets through mosquito bites. If an infected mosquito nips your pet (or if your pet eats the mosquito!), your pet will contract larval (baby) heartworms, which can grow up to a foot in length inside your pet.

And everyone has to be aware — heartworm cases have been reported in all 50 states. Even in areas or seasons where you don’t often see mosquitos, the risk is still there.

What You Can Do

The good news is that heartworm prevention is incredibly easy. A number of preventative medications are available for cats and dogs — chewable tablets that you give your pet once a month, to prevent heartworms from being able to take hold if they ever do get to your pet.

Maybe Even More Important for Cats

If a dog does get heartworm, deworming medications can get rid of the parasites, but there is no approved treatment for heartworms in cats. So don’t miss that monthly dose!

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