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P.A.W.S. Pet Hospital

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April Is Heartworm Disease Awareness Month

Since we often joke that our state bird is the mosquito… addressing heartworm disease is an important issue in Minnesota.


Heartworm is a disease that affects both dogs and cats. Our pets are bitten by infected mosquitoes. With dogs being a suitable host, the larva forms have the ability to grow, mature and then reproduce. This allows new mosquitoes to become incubative hosts for the larva to mature, and then go off and infect other pets. For cats the outcome is typically not so good, as they don't have the capacity to support a worm burden and typically die.

Both our canine and feline friends infected with heartworm succumb to heart changes that, at a minimum, may present as a cough, exercise intolerance, change in appetite and can lead to full on heart failure and death.

Treatment is available for our canine friends, though it has some risks.  Unfortunately for our kitty friends, no such viable option is available.  Extensive testing is necessary to safely treat an infected pet.


The key message is that prevention is the best medicine.  Heartworm has become one of the easier diseases to prevent. Additionally most heartworm preventive measures now provide prevention of other diseases as well.


Ask your P.A.W.S. staff member which preventive is right for you and your pet.