Canine and Feline Heartworm


• Most Americans love their pets and consider them family members. Likewise, most clients would not knowingly expose a pet to infection with a potentially fatal disease
• Yet millions of owners who fail to protect their pets from heartworm infection are doing exactly that. The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) advocates year-round heartworm prevention for cats and dogs
• This recommendation is based on parasite and vector characteristics and human behavior
• Heartworm transmission occurs throughout the year in portions of the United States
• Mosquito presence and ability to transmit heartworm microfilariae (infectious larvae) are often unpredictable, making it impossible to pinpoint potential transmission seasons
• More pets are traveling with their owners, often to and from heartworm-endemic areas, during transmission season
• Year-round prevention may help improve client compliance and efficacy of preventatives
• While the rationale is somewhat less compelling than it is for dogs, year-round prevention is advised for cats living in endemic areas. When making decisions about heartworm prophylaxis in cats, we must consider the lack of an approved treatment protocol and the guarded prognosis for infected cats. Infection with only one adult heartworm may prove fatal, and immature infections may produce signs of respiratory disease, sometimes severe
• The fact that many cats are “indoor” cats offers a false sense of security. Spending time outdoors does put cats at greater risk for heartworm infection. However, over one-fourth of the cats diagnosed with heartworm disease at North Carolina State University were solely indoor cats, according to their owners
• The consequences of feline heartworm disease are potentially dire, and no clear therapeutic solution exists (there is no approved effective treatment)
• Heartworm prevalence is significant in enough most areas that dog and cat owners should be informed about its prevention and strongly encouraged to follow year-round prevention recommendations. Several heartworm preventatives are available for use in dogs and cats. With a range of formulations and delivery mechanisms offered by these products, individual client needs can easily be met. Like so many diseases, heartworm disease is easier and much less expensive to prevent than to treat. Today, no dog or cat should suffer from heartworm infection