Heartworms are internal parasitic worms that invade the heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels of certain animal species. Heartworms are a serious health risk in your pets and can even become fatal. Dogs, cats, and ferrets can become infected; however, dogs are a natural host for heartworms. With dogs being a natural host, the heartworms can live, mature, and reproduce all while inside your dog, GROSS!
The only way your pet can get heartworms is by an infected mosquito, but you cannot know whether a mosquito is infected or not. North Carolina provides a great place for mosquitoes to live due to the warm and humid weather and is ranked as one of the 10 top worst states for mosquitoes. With the large population of mosquitoes in North Carolina, there is also a very high prevalence for heartworms in North Carolina. Referencing the 2019 heartworm incidence map, the majority of North Carolina has 51-99 cases per clinic.
Preventing your pet from getting heartworms is relatively easy and inexpensive compared to that of heartworm treatment. There are many different kinds of heartworm preventatives, some are monthly and others can last for a year! Furthermore, if your pet is not on preventative and becomes heartworm positive, there are no approved treatments for cats and ferrets. Although there is an approved treatment for dogs, their health may be diminished even after the heartworms are gone.
Consider talking with your veterinarian to see which heartworm prevention your pets should be on! Along with your pets being on prevention, a yearly heartworm test is a great precaution to take.