Five Facts About Heartworm Disease

The American Heartworm Society and Burr Ridge Veterinary Clinic’s veterinarians recommend annual heartworm testing and year-round heartworm prevention.  Here are five reasons why:

  • More than a million pets in the US have heartworm disease.   Veterinarians are reporting a more than 21% increase since 2013 in dogs testing positive for heartworm disease.  During the first four months of 2017, 1 out of every 100 dogs living in Cook, DuPage and Will Counties had a positive test result.
  • Heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states.  Heartworms are spread by infected mosquitoes and we know that Darien, Downers Grove, Westmont and surrounding metropolitan areas have plenty of these pesky bloodsuckers!  Even pets that spend little time outside are at risk from mosquitoes inside the house.
  • Both dogs and cats get heartworm disease.  In dogs, adult heartworms that develop from larvae deposited by mosquitoes cause disease.  Infected dogs may cough, become lethargic, have difficulty breathing, and lose stamina.  Cats can also carry adult heartworms, but it’s more common in cats for heartworms to die before reaching maturity.  Cats may develop coughing and breathing difficulties and only one or two heartworms will make your cat very sick.
  • Heartworm disease can be fatal.  Heartworm disease affects the heart, lungs and pulmonary blood vessels of pets and can be fatal to both dogs and cats.  Annual testing and monitoring is important, because infected dogs can be successfully treated, and the earlier the better.  There are no approved treatments for cats, but supportive care can help manage complications.
  • Prevention is safe, effective, and cost-effective.  There are a number of heartworm preventatives that have been proven safe for cats and dogs.  With their proper and timely use, heartworm disease is extremely preventable.  The cost of annual testing and year-round heartworm preventatives ranges from $125-$200 depending upon your pet’s weight.  Treatment of heartworm disease in dogs can range between $750 and $1,000 including additional bloodwork, oral medications, radiographs (x-rays), and three rounds of in-hospital medication injections.  As noted above, there are no approved treatments for infected cats. 

Show your love for your pets by using heartworm preventative each month and having them tested for heartworm infection every 12 months!