April is Heartworm Awareness Month! The Butte Humane Society Clinic is a proud member of the American Heartworm Society and we are committed to keeping our clients informed and educated to best protect their pets. Did you know that both cats and dogs have been diagnosed with heartworm in all 50 states? Heartworm is an invasive parasite that is transmitted by mosquitos. Northern California has a large mosquito problem and the American Heartworm Society estimates that 9 out of 10 mosquitos are carriers in our area. The rate of infection in in dogs in Butte county is 1 in 63!
Our clinic alone has diagnosed 5 heartworm positive cases in the last 45 days. Heartworm can be painful for a dog to live with and the treatment is expensive and painful as well. It is important to note that dogs are not the only ones who can suffer at the hands of a heartworm infection, cats can contract heartworms as well. Cat’s immune systems are good at fending off the worms before they become adults; however if a cat becomes infected with heartworm, they are at risk for secondary infections, specifically Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease, which causes significant inflammation and permanent damage to the lungs.
There is no approved treatment for cats infected with heartworm, only supportive care can be offered for the secondary infections that accompany a heartworm infection. Heartworm disease affects the heart, lungs and pulmonary blood vessels of pets and can be fatal to both dogs and cats. Monthly heartworm prevention should be given for the life of your pet, even if they aren’t outside often- there is no such thing as an “outdoor only mosquito”. Annual testing and monitoring is important- even if they are on heartworm prevention, because prevention (as with human flu vaccines, etc.) is not 100% effective. The earlier an infection is caught- the easier it is to treat! We recommend that your pet starts on monthly heartworm prevention by the time they are 6 months old and have a heartworm test every year to make sure everything is working as it should. If your dog or cat is over 6 months old, is not on heartworm prevention, or has never been tested; we urge you to set up an exam with our veterinarian to get your furry friend tested and started on monthly heartworm prevention. Schedule your appointment today by calling us at 530.343.7917 x 202. We look forward to keeping your furry family member happy and healthy for years to come!