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Heartworm is a serious and potentially deadly parasite that can affect your treasured pets, especially cats and dogs. These are the top facts about heartworm that veterinarians want you to know.

Heartworm is a disease caused by parasitic worms that live in the heart, lungs, and other vital organs of mammals. As the disease worsens, vital organs can develop life-threatening complications.

Mosquitoes are largely responsible for spreading heartworm between hosts. Heartworms release microscopic baby worms called microfilaria into an animal’s bloodstream. When mosquitoes bite hosts, they carry microfilaria from an infected animal to a healthy one.

According to the American Heartworm Society, baby larvae can mature into infecting adults in less than 2 weeks. At their largest, they can be about a foot long. Several heartworms can live in a single host. Sadly, pets usually don’t show symptoms until the parasite is advanced. Symptoms include frequent coughing, lack of energy, and a swollen belly.

Heartworm is rarer in cats, as heartworms rarely live to the adult stage in a cat’s body, but it’s still important to prevent heartworm in felines. Prevention is key for all mammal pets. Take your pet to a vet at least once a year to test for heartworm and to receive monthly preventive medications. Heartworm can affect puppies, so take your pet to a vet as soon as possible.

If you’re looking for reliable and sensitive resources for pet health, look no further than Forever Vets Animal Hospital. Our full-service pet health facilities offer advice for pet owners, preventive care for pets, and intervention for common pet health problems such as heartworm and injuries. Our family of facilities includes seven locations throughout Florida that serve Orlando, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and more. Whether you’ve just adopted or rescued a pet, or if you want the best health possible for a longtime animal companion, visit Forever Vets Animal Hospital. Call us today to make an appointment or visit our website to find a location near you in the event of an animal emergency.

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