Urgent News: The Butte Humane Society Clinic has treated 4 cases of heartworm positive dogs in the last 60 days. Did you know that of those tested,1 in 63 dogs in Butte County have been positive for heartworm? 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. Once an infected mosquito bites a dog, the heartworm larvae invade the bloodstream, mature, and then make a home in the heart of the dog. It takes approximately six months for heartworms to become an adult in a new host, according to the American Heartworm Society. As you can imagine, this causes all sorts of health issues for the dog including heart failure, organ failure, and ultimately death if left untreated. Heartworms can live in the hearts of dogs for 5-7 years! Most dogs will not show any symptoms of heartworm infection until the infestation is bad. The most common symptoms are activity intolerance and coughing. Heartworm can be painful for a dog to live with, and if infected, 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; cat’s immune systems are better at fending off the worms before they become adults. However, for cats fighting off heartworms, inflammation can occur which can lead to an immune reaction in cats. This syndrome, called Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease, is associated with significant inflammation and permanent damage to the lungs. To protect your cat, heartworm prevention should be given monthly even if your cat primarily resides indoors- there is no such thing as an “outdoor only mosquito”. If your dog or cat is over 6 months old, is not on heartworm prevention, and 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!