April is National Heartworm Awareness Month!

April is National Heartworm Awareness Month!

What is Heartworm Disease? According to the FDA, “Heartworm disease is a serious disease that results in severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and death in pets, mainly dogs, (and less commonly) in cats, and ferrets. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis.The worms are spread through the bite of a mosquito. The dog is the definitive host, meaning that the worms mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring while living inside a dog. The mosquito is the intermediate host, meaning that the worms live inside a mosquito for a short transition period in order to become ineffective (able to cause heartworm disease). The worms are called “heartworms” because the adults live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of an infected animal.”

Heartworm disease is most common in the Gulf Coasts and along the Mississippi River, however, more and more cases are seen in our area every year. Below is a map of positive Heartworm Disease cases throughout the country in 2016 from the American Heartworm Society.


Click here to view maps from previous years.

What about Cats? While not as common as in their canine counterparts, from the FDA “Cats can also get heartworms after being bitten by an infected mosquito, although they are not as susceptible to infection as dogs. A cat is considered a resistant host of heartworms because the worms do not thrive as well inside a cat’s body.” If you are concerned about Heartworm disease in your cat, or may be traveling with them to an area where the disease is more prevalent, please make appointment to speak with one of our Veterinarians about which option may be best for your feline friend!

For more information, photos and resources on Heartworm Disease, see “Keep the Worms Out of Your Pet’s Heart! The Facts about Heartworm Disease” from the FDA.


Photo provided by The American Heartworm Society

Here at AVVH, we recommend annual Heartworm testing and year round prevention for all dogs! Products such as Heartgard, not only help keep your pet free from Heartworms, but other, sometimes zoonotic (that means it can transfer to people!) parasites they may pick up throughout the month!

During the month of April, when you purchase a 12 month supply of Heartgard for your dog, you will receive a $12 mail in rebate AND an adorable “Kong Cruncheez” toy!*


Call us at 805-529-6833 to find out how to get your pet protected!

*Current annual heartworm test and health examination at our office required for purchase of any heartworm preventative. Rebate only for purchases of 12 months of the same size dose. Only applicable to in-house purchases, not online store.

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