Heartworm is a potentially fatal parasite that infects dogs and cats, as well as other wild animals and is transmitted from animal to animal by mosquito bites. The good news is that it is both preventable and treatable. If your pet is exposed to mosquitoes, it should be tested for heartworm disease. Signs to look for in your dog are coughing, lethargy, loss of appetite or difficulty breathing. Cats display different symptoms, including respiratory distress, vomiting and coughing.
When fully mature, heartworms can reach lengths of up to 14 inches and damage the blood vessels in the lungs and heart, reducing your pet's heart pumping ability. This can lead to severe lung and heart disease and if untreated, death. It's a preventable disease when diagnosed, with testing recommended every 12 months. Prevention medication should be given monthly.