(Dirofilaria immitis) A parasitic roundworm that infects mostly dogs but can infect other animals such as foxes, cats, wolves coyotes, ferrets and even sea lions. The name heartworm is a bit misleading because the “heart” worm attaches itself to the hosts lungs in the pulmonary arterial system(the blood ways in the lungs). This is where the parasite does most of its damage. Infrequently, the adult parasite will migrate to the host’s right side of the heart or to large veins in very heavy infection cases.
Heartworms are strictly passed to your pets by a mosquito bite, and mosquito bites only. Prevention is the best means of keeping your dog or cat heartworm free. It’s quite easy to prevent, but not easy or pleasant to eliminate once affected. Prevention is as easy as a pill from your favorite vet, just follow the directions.
A common question is whether people can get heartworms from dogs, and again, they are only passed by mosquito bite. Humans, only in very rare occurrences, have been infected by a mosquito but the worm does not make it through its complete life cycle. This can be easily confused with other parasites which your pets can be infected by.
Another common worry is passing dog to dog in the house, and again, the only way it can pass is from the mosquito bite. If the mosquito bites an infected animal before biting the uninfected animal the heartworms will still not be passed. The mosquito must go through an incubation period before it becomes infectious.
Heartworms are not a big deal if you use proper methods to prevent it. Keep your best friends healthy and happy.
If you would like to know more about your pets potential menaces such as whipworms, hookworms, roundworms or tapeworms just click on them.