Heartworm disease is one of the most painful, deadly, and costly parasitic infections. Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest to prevent.

Do we have heartworm disease in Los Gatos?

Heartworm is here but our risk is much lower than in other parts of the country. The risk increases if you travel with your pets or live in high mosquito territory (Santa Cruz mountains, lots of trees, ponds, off Kennedy, Shannon Roads).

With the tremendous amount of rain, the mosquitoes will be a bigger problem this year. Remember to check your yard for breeding areas such as ponds, tarps, planters, rain barrels, bird baths among others. These are breeding places for mosquitoes and may be just steps outside your door. The lifecycle takes only seven days to complete the mosquito life cycle (egg to adult). For more information on mosquito abatement, go to: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/vector/pests/pages/mosquitoes.aspx and select the brochure, “Are You Raising Mosquitoes In Your Backyard? Learn ways to protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes.” More mosquitoes in the area increase the risk of heartworm disease.

How do I protect my pet?

We recommend dogs and cats be on monthly heartworm preventative. In addition, we recommend dogs be tested annually for heartworms, even if they are on prevention. During the month of April, please call us to schedule a FREE heartworm test with the purchase of twelve months of Trifexis for your dog. Let’s keep you and your pet together for a long time.

In honor of National Heartworm Awareness Month, here are 11 facts you should know about the mosquito-transmitted disease:

  1. Heartworm disease most often affects dogs, cats, and ferrets.
  2. Dogs are natural hosts for heartworms, providing the ideal environment for heartworms to mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring.
  3. Mature heartworms look like spaghetti.
  4. Dogs can harbor several hundred adult worms in their bodies, but cats affected by the disease often have few, if any, adult worms (although the immature worms still cause significant damage because of a condition called heartworm associated respiratory disease, or HARD).
  5. Heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years in a dog and up to 2 to 3 years in a cat.
  6. Signs of heartworm disease in dogs include a mild but persistent cough, fatigue (especially after activity), decreased appetite, and weight loss.
  7. Signs of heartworm disease in cats include coughing, asthma-like attacks, vomiting, decreased appetite, and weight loss. Often, a cat will show no signs of heartworm until he suddenly collapses and succumbs to the disease.
  8. Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs, and arteries of dogs. Dogs can be treated for the disease, but the treatment is expensive, difficult, and often comes too late to fully “cure” the animal.
  9. The medication used to treat heartworm infection in dogs cannot be used in cats. Prevention is the only way to protect cats from heartworms.
  10. Dogs should be tested annually for heartworm, and cats should be tested before being put on preventive medication.
  11. Both cats and dogs should be on regular heartworm preventive medication.


Questions about heartworm disease? Contact us!

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El Gato Veterinary Hospital is here to help! Contact us today.