Pet Health

Re-Infection of Heartworm in Cats and Dogs in Our Area

After the “Katrina” hurricane, many people and pets in the South were left homeless. There was a huge nation-wide effort to help these pets and many were relocated to our tri-state area. However, over 95% of these dogs were heartworm positive. Heartworm is a disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. Once a mosquito bites an infected heartworm animal, every other animal that that mosquito bites can become infected with the disease. Twenty years ago heartworm quickly became a huge epidemic in America that killed lots of pets. Then we came up with a safe and easy monthly preventative that most people used and we were able to greatly reduce the number of infected animals. Some pet owners have forgotten how quickly heartworm can overtake an area or just don’t know that it’s real and here. Just at our hospital last year we diagnosed 9 dogs and 5 cats with heartworms, all it takes is a simple annual blood test.

The treatment for dogs already infected includes a series of three shots of an arsenic-based compound and several other diagnostic processes. Each shot can cost about $500.00. Our objective is to simply kill the worms…and hope that we found the disease in time. If we do not treat the animal, it will not survive. Now that most dogs are checked annually, the chances of surviving heartworm with treatment have increased significantly.

There is no treatment that is safe enough to treat adult heartworms in cats, but there is a great preventative. In cats after one infective mosquito bite the immature heartworm larvae travels through the system, developing into an adult in about 4-8 months. The good news is that you can stop heartworm from reaching the adult stage if you are using preventative measures before that four-month permanent maturation phase. The great, safe, FDA approved preventative for cats is called Revolution. It also protects cats from fleas, ticks, roundworms, hookworms and even ear mites. In our opinion it is the only product anyone should use on their cats. It is very similar to a medicine once used in kids in America and other countries infected with roundworms. Grass, soil, potting soil for gardens and plants are actually huge sources for roundworm infection in kids and animals.

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Dr. Joseph Martins DVM

Belle Mead Animal Hospital

872 Route 206

Hillsborough, NJ 08844

Office: 908-874-4447

Fax: 908-847-4144