Lowest price guarantee - We will beat any price!
Free worldwide shipping for orders over $50

Heartworm FAQs

How does a pet get heartworm?

Heartworms can only be transmitted from host to host in one way: by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitos pick up heartworm larvae by feeding on an infected host – this includes not only dogs, cats, and ferrets, but wild animals such as wolves, foxes and coyotes. These larvae develop within the mosquito to the infective stage and are then transferred to a new host as the mosquito feeds.

Can cats get heartworm?

Cats are just as much at risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito. Once bitten, their chance of the heartworms maturing and multiplying is somewhat lower than dogs, as cats are not natural hosts for the parasite. However, a cat’s health can be seriously impacted by just one or two adult heartworms. Keeping your cat indoors does not guarantee that they will not be infected by heartworms, as mosquitoes can easily get inside. In fact, up to a third of cats with heartworm disease are indoor cats. As there is no treatment available for heartworms in cats, preventative action is key to protecting your cat.

Are heartworms contagious?

The good news is that heartworms are not directly contagious. Heartworm larvae can only be transmitted by mosquitoes - they are not transferred from pet to pet by contact, coughing or eating infected meat. Nor can heartworms be passed from mother to their litter. A heartworm-positive pet does not need to be isolated, but any other pets will still be at risk of contracting heartworms through mosquito bites.

How do heartworm preventatives work?

Despite the name ‘preventative’, heartworm medications cannot stop mosquitoes from transferring heartworm larvae to your dog or cat. What the medication does is eliminate any larvae that have entered the bloodstream in the 30 days previous, preventing them from developing into adult worms. Heartworm preventatives do not remain in the bloodstream and have no effect on new larvae that may be transmitted. This is why it is so important to maintain a regular schedule for your pet’s medication.

Most heartworm preventatives also treat other external and internal parasites, making health care more convenient and affordable for pet owners. Popular products include Advantage Multi or Revolution, which also treat fleas and intestinal worms and mites.

Do I need to test for heartworm before starting preventatives?

Yes, due to the way that heartworm medications work, prior testing is necessary. Heartworm preventatives work by killing off microscopic larvae known as microfilariae before they can mature. These preventatives are not used to eliminate adult heartworm. By giving heartworm preventatives to a heartworm-positive animal (dogs in particular) you run the risk of causing an anaphylactic reaction, which may result in sudden death.

My dog/cat is on heartworm medication – do they still need to be tested?

Yes, even if you administer a monthly medication, your vet will recommend you still have your pet tested regularly for heartworm. It is possible for your dog or cat to spit out or vomit tablets or chewable, or to rub off topical treatments. And although medicated heartworm preventatives provide the best available protection against the development of heartworm disease, no measure is 100% effective.

Can I give heartworm preventatives to my pregnant or nursing pet?

Yes, there are a number of heartworm preventatives that are safe for use with pregnant or lactating dogs and cats. These include Heartgard (dogs only) and Revolution (dogs and cats). As with all medications, it is important that you carefully read and adhere to the included instructions. If you can any concerns about the suitability a medication for your pet, please consult your veterinarian.

Are puppies and kittens immune to heartworm?

Unfortunately, puppies and kittens are just as susceptible to infection with heartworm as adult animals. Mothers cannot pass on immunity to their young, nor can they transfer the effects of heartworm preventatives by nursing. Puppies and kittens should be started on regular medications as soon as they reach the age as noted by the particular medication you select, and by 8 weeks at the latest. Animals younger than 6 months do not require prior testing - as the worms themselves take 6 months to develop. Many medications available are designed to be safe for animals as young 6-8 weeks, such as Revolution.

When should my pet be started on heartworm medication?

It is recommended that puppies and kittens are started on heartworm preventatives by 8 weeks of age at the latest, and earlier if the particular product allows. Dogs or cats under 6 months of age can be given preventative medication without first being tested for existing heartworm.

Some combination medications may not be suitable for young dogs or cats, even if they include a heartworm preventative. Please read the product information carefully and consult your vet it if you have any concerns.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Maintaining a regular dosing schedule is vital to ensuring your heartworm medication is effective. If the dose is less than a week late, give the missed dose immediately and resume a regular dosing schedule. If the dose is more than a week late, contact your vet. Giving heartworm preventatives to an animal that has been infected with heartworm can be dangerous, particularly for dogs. Depending on how late the dose is, your vet may advise resuming preventative medication, but you will also need to schedule a heartworm test for your dog or cat.

Is there a vaccine for heartworm?

No, at this point there is no vaccine that will provide immunity from heartworm. The only option is to administer regular preventative medication. If you stop this medication your dog or cat will no longer be protected from developing heartworm disease. Preventative medications are most commonly available as topical or oral applications, to be administered once a month. In some countries, a 6-month or 12-month injection is available for dogs only.

What are the symptoms of heartworm?

In dogs, the severity of symptoms is usually determined by the number and size of the adult heartworms in the body. Early signs include coughing, lethargy, and weight loss. As the disease progressed your dog may experience breathing problems and fainting.

Cats are less likely to display symptoms of the disease, but unlike dogs, they can be affected by just one or two heartworms. Symptoms in cats include breathing problems, vomiting, lethargy and loss of appetite.

It is important to remember that both dog and cats may be asymptomatic during the early stages of heartworm. This is why regular testing, even if your pet is taking regular medication, is so important.

Can heartworm disease be treated?

If a dog develops heartworm disease, there are treatment options available, though it should be noted they are very involved, expensive and potentially dangerous. Treatment will consist of a series of injections administered by your vet, often spread out over a number of months, which will kill the adult heartworm. As the heartworms die and decompose, the fragments can cause blockages in a dog’s blood vessels, so your dog will need to be confined to avoid excessive movement. Your vet may also recommend treatment to alleviate the symptoms of the disease.

There is currently no available treatment for cats, as the drugs used to eliminate heartworms in dogs are dangerous for cats. For cats, the only option is to treat the symptoms of heartworm and endeavor to keep your cat healthy until the worms die off naturally – which can take up to 2-4 years. During this time your vet may need to prescribe steroids for inflammation in the heart and lungs, medication for breathing issues, and provide general nursing care.

Can humans get heartworm?

As we all know, humans receive just as many mosquito bites as other animals, if not more. Thankfully, humans are not natural hosts for heartworm and the larvae are rarely transferred into the bloodstream, even when bitten by an infected mosquito. On the rare cases that these larvae do transfer to humans, they do not develop into adult worms and do not cause the same health issues that they do in dogs or cats.

Heartworm FAQs

There are no products to display

What we’ve been talking about!

See all

How to puppy proof your home

by james on 15 Sep 2021
First-time dog owners can forget to pet-proof their houses, but it’s an important step before ever bringing a dog home. Here are a few tips. How to puppy proof your home Every soon-to-be pet parent is excited to bring a new companion home, but not all dog owners remember to pet-proof their houses before Fido arrives. Whether you are bringing home a puppy or adopting an adult dog,  protecting your pet from household hazards and safeguarding your breakable belongs is an important step toward becoming a pet owner. Before you go to pick up your dog, take a walk-through of your house to assess any potential hazards for your pet and items you need to move out of his reach. First, sweep for unsafe objects such as electrical wires, sharp objects and small items such as loose coins, medications or game pieces that your dog could swallow. If you are up to it, examine each room from a “dog’s eye view” by moving on your hands and knees. This will allow you to see any hidden hazards that you may have missed when looking from above. Once you have checked for obvious hazards, evaluate other potentially harmful objects that may be in your home. Some house plants are poisonous for pets, so be sure to research any that will be within Fido’s reach to make sure they are safe in the case of canine consumption. Move any plants that are toxic for dogs, or that you simply want to protect from potential damage, to a higher area. You will also need to relocate any toxic chemicals such as household cleaners and medications inside a puppy-proof cabinet or to a high shelf. After you’ve made your home safe for your new pet, it is important to protect your own belongings from being potential destruction by a feisty pup. It is worth investing in a dog-proof trash can to keep your companion from creating a mess or eating garbage that could make him sick. Some dogs are notorious chewers, so keep your dresser and closet shut tight and any shoes, belts or other chewable objects locked safely away. A rule of thumb is to view anything as a potential chew toy to your new dog, and to move anything that could be damaged to a high shelf, shut drawer or other safe spot. It can be daunting to pet-proof your house before bringing him a new dog home, but the results are well worth the effort. By taking the time to remove any objects that could harm your pet and secure your personal belongings from potential damage, you can ensure your dog has a smooth and safe transition to his new home.

Why is my cat urinating outside the litter box?

by jennifer on 03 Sep 2021
Most cat owners have struggled with their pet not using the litter box, but this can be your cat’s way of saying something is wrong. Why is my cat urinating outside the litter box? At some point, most cat owners struggle with their companion urinating outside of the litter box. Though this can be frustrating, it helps to know this unusual behavior is one way your pet communicates to you that something is wrong, either medically or emotionally. Physically ailments such as urinary tract infections are one of the common causes of inappropriate urination. There are many other medical conditions that can cause your cat to feel uncomfortable, including bladder stones, kidney disease and infections. Any problem impacting his kidneys or liver in particular can cause your cat to drink more water and, therefore, need more urgent trips to the litter box. With this change in his schedule, he may not be able to reach the litter box in time, or it may become dirty faster, leading your cat to do his business elsewhere until the litter is cleaned. Even if the physical discomfort is not directly related to your pet’s bladder, he may start urinating in inappropriate places due to other physical conditions, such as diabetes or arthritis. Senior pets are especially prone to problems with the litter box as their mobility and cognitive function decrease. It may simply be harder for older cats to get into the litter box, or they may become confused as their brain function changes during their senior years.  There are also non-physical conditions that can make Kitty urinate outside of his litter box. Feeling stressed or anxious can change a range of your pet’s behaviors, including where he uses the bathroom. Even small changes, such as a visitor in the house, can cause cats to feel stressed, and larger shifts such as adding a new pet to the household or moving can certainly trigger unusual behavior. Some cats will also mark spots in the household with urine when they feel threatened by a new pet or person. If your cat suddenly starts urinating outside of the litter box, take this is a sign that something may be wrong. If the behavior does not change, take him to the veterinarian for a check-up to rule out any physical ailments. If he is physically healthy, you will then need to address the stressor that is causing your pet’s behavioral problems with his litter box. Be sure to keep the box clean and in a private section of your house so it is inviting to your pet. Try different types of litter, as some pick pets have a texture preference. If you have a senior pet who is struggling with mobility, try a tray with a lower lip and open top. Block off any parts of the house where your cat has been making a habit of urinating, or place a litter box directly over the spot he has made his makeshift bathroom. You can also use odor-neutralizing sprays to remove the smell in those spots, as this can encourage your cat to continue urinating there. When introducing a new pet to a multi-cat household, place multiple litter boxes around the house to encourage your cats to use their litter boxes.

How to help dogs with arthritis

by jennifer on 24 Aug 2021
Arthritis cannot be cured, but you can help manage your pet’s symptoms. Here are a few tips to help senior dogs experiencing arthritis.  How to help dogs with arthritis Arthritis is a common problem in dogs, particularly as they age. Though there is no cure for this common condition, recognizing the signs of arthritis early can help you manage your dog’s symptoms and slow progression of the disease, improving his quality of life well into his senior years. Known as osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease, arthritis is caused as the cartilage that acts as a buffer between bones slowly breaks down over time, leading to inflamed and painful joint. Through injuries and stress can lead to the condition, arthritis is often the result of wear over time. Not only can it be painful for your pet, but arthritis can also lead to decreased range of mobility. The condition can develop in any joint, but is primarily found in dog’s legs and lower backs, which receive the most use over the course of Fido’s lifetime. It can be difficult to recognize the signs of arthritis early, especially because our pets are experts at hiding pain. However, catching the condition early in its progression can help pet parents manage its effects and improve their dog’s quality of like. Early signs of degenerative joint disease include stiffness and difficulty getting up, lethargy, weight gain, behavioral changes such as irritability, a pained response to being touched, and difficulty using the bathroom due to decreased mobility. If your middle- to senior-aged pet is experiencing symptoms that you think are arthritis, take him to the veterinarian for a joint examination. Though there is no cure for osteoarthritis, you can help slow its progression through exercise and joint-supporting supplements. Keep your dog lightly to moderately active as his joints allow helps him maintain a healthy weight, which reduces stress on his joints. Some pets with limited mobility enjoy swimming, which provides exercise without putting pressure on the joints. Dietary changes include providing Fido with supplements to help reduce inflammation and slow the progression of joint damage. Glucosamine and chondroitin are both well-known supplements that reduce inflammation and increase cartilage water retention, which helps cushion the joints and make your pet more comfortable. You can also make adjustments to your pet’s daily routine that make him more comfortable, such as providing him extra, soft bedding and minimizing his need to jump or go up and down stairs. Dogs experiencing moderate or severe arthritis may also benefit from pain medication to manage symptoms. Most pet owners use Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, or NSAIDs, to treat chronic pain in their dogs. However, this group of drugs can have other deleterious effects when used over a long period of time and should be reserved for dogs experiencing significant arthritis pain. Consult your veterinarian before treating arthritis with NSAIDs. Though arthritis cannot be cured, there are several ways to manage your companion’s symptoms so he can live a more comfortable life. Help him maintain a healthy weight to reduce stress on high joints through diet and exercise. Joint supplements can also help reduce inflammation that causes arthritis pain and help slow the progression of the disease.
Sign up to our newsletter to know more about our specials!
Marketing by