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Pet Tales: Heartworm disease is preventable

Pet Tales: As mosquito populations rise in Oklahoma, so does the risk of your pet contracting heartworms. Carried from one pet to another by mosquitoes, heartworms can be deadly.
by Heather Warlick Published: July 2, 2012

Pet Tales

Heartworm is preventable disease

Have you been bitten? Mosquitoes are abundant this time of year in Oklahoma, and as their populations rise, so does the risk of your dog, cat or ferret contracting heartworms.

Banfield Pet Hospital’s research team ranks Oklahoma as eighth in the nation for the most positive tests for heartworm infection in dogs. Heartworm is spread from pet to pet by mosquitoes, and the disease can kill your pet.

While there are treatment options for dogs infected with heartworms, there are none for cats and ferrets, say veterinarians at Banfield. So prevention is key.

They recommend monthly medications (topical or pill) administered year-round, or twice-yearly injections. These medications interrupt the growth of heartworm larvae before they've attached to your pet's body.

“Heartworm is a tragic disease, but fortunately it is preventable,” said Dr. Amy Canida, of Banfield Oklahoma City, in a news release. “While heartworm disease is found in every state in every season, there are areas that we consider to be endemic — this includes the Southeast region."

Heartworm disease is characterized by a Dirofilaria immitis, a long, slender parasitic worm that can grow to 12 inches long. The worms migrate to the blood vessels of the lungs and to the right side of the heart and can cause permanent damage to the heart and lungs before the pet shows any outward signs of heartworms.

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by Heather Warlick
Life & Style Editor
Since graduating from University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, Staff Writer Heather Warlick has written stories for The Oklahoman's Life section. Her beats have included science, health, home and garden, family,...
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