What Are Heartworms?

Heartworms are a parasitic worm that live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of an infected pet and travel through the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the parasites harm arteries and vital organs as they travel; ultimately reaching their destination to the heart and lung vessels. The approximate time frame is 6 months after an initial infection and can survive in a pet for 5-7 years. Heartworms in pets are common throughout this country but, dogs and cats alike are at a greater risk on the East Coast due to the hot, humid conditions in which mosquitoes thrive. They are the most damaging parasites. This disease is serious and can be terminal but, the good news… it is 100% preventable.

Signs of Heartworms
in your Pet

Heartworm disease in dogs and cats differ as dogs may present few to no symptoms at all but, the longer the infection continues… the symptoms will begin to develop. Whereas, cats present subtle signs and may just collapse and death may be sudden.


Dogs infected heavily with heartworms or dogs with other health issues will show noticeable clinical signs such as:

  • Persistent Cough
  • Unwillingness to Exercise
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Labored Breathing
  • Cardiovascular
  • Collapse
  • Death


Cats present subtle signs and symptoms may include:

  • Asthma-Like Attacks
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Difficulty Walking
  • Fainting or Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Sudden Death

Heartworm Testing

One of the many benefits of a Forever Vets Wellness Plan. Check out our affordable Pet Wellness Options.

Heartworm Testing Gif for Heartworm Testing

Preventing Heartworms

Heartworm preventive treatments are effective and highly recommended by our veterinarians at Forever Vets Animal Hospital. Heartworm treatments kill immature worms that enter your cat or dog's body before they can cause serious damage. There are heartworm preventives in a variety of different formulations such as monthly chewables, tablets, and topical treatments. Ask the veterinarian for the best heartworm preventive treatment for your pet today!

Before heartworm preventive can be administered to your pet, schedule a blood screening to ensure your dog isn't already infected. The ideal method for screening cats is the antigen and 'antibody' test which reveals heartworm larvae exposure. Using a heartworm treatment on infected pets can cause severe complications to your pet's health and will not kill the existing heartworms.

Keep your pet heartworm FREE by scheduling regular tests for your furry friend at Forever Vets Animal Hospital in Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, St Augustine, St Johns, Nocatee FL or Orlando today!

  • Simparica Trio: a chewable tablet that treat and prevents fleas, heartworms, and internal parasites & ticks
  • Heartgard: a soft chewie that prevents Heartworms and intestinal parasites
  • Revolution: a topical solution to prevent fleas, heartworms, ear mites and intestinal parasite