Heartworms are parasites that are of concern for both dogs and cats.
Dogs and cats acquire heartworms through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes pick up larval heartworms from infected dogs and transmit them to other dogs and cats.
Adult heartworms live in the heart and pulmonary arteries.
It takes 5-7 months after larvae are deposited in the skin by affected mosquitoes for the adults to reach the heart and be able to reproduce.
Available heartworm tests on the market will not detect immature stages of heartworm; therefore, the American Heartworm Society recommends testing puppies at 5-7 months and annually as part of a wellness screen in dogs
Cats are not the normal host for heartworms and can mount an aggressive immune response to their presence. There is currently no safe protocol for treatment of adult heartworms in cats so it is very important all cats to be on monthly preventive.
There are many options for heartworm prevention in both dogs and cats, including topical products. Talk to your veterinarian about the best preventive for your dog and cat.