April is Heartworm Awareness Month!

Learn how to protect your pets from this 100% preventable disease!

Eva Stokas
Marketing/Media Specialist
8104 Exchange Drive
Austin, Texas 78754
Email: estokas@tvma.org
Phone: 512/452-4224
Fax: 512/452-6633


Austin, TX-April 2, 2012-Mosquito season is almost upon us, which is the worst time for heartworm transmission, so take advantage of Heartworm Awareness Month this April to brush up on your heartworm facts. Texas has one of the highest concentrations of heartworm cases in the U.S. These are just a few reasons why it is so important to remember how to protect our pets from this 100% preventable disease.

“There are many preventatives available for dogs and cats, and when used consistently, these are extremely effective,” said Lori Teller, DVM, a past president of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA). “There are even apps for your smartphone to help you remember to medicate your pet.”

According to a recent Gallup survey, 55% of dog-owning families use preventatives, but of these families, 33% do not administer them correctly, therefore decreasing effectiveness.

Mosquitoes transmit heartworms by biting an infected animal and then carrying the infected blood-meal containing microfiliae (heartworm larvae) to its next victim. The heartworms then take up residence in the right side of the heart and block the flow of blood, causing blood clots. The heart then has to work harder and harder to maintain circulation. This damages the heart, causes heart disease and, left untreated, causes heart failure.

Symptoms in dogs include coughing, early exhaustion while exercising, decreased appetite and labored breathing. The symptoms in cats are mostly wheezing and appearing like they have asthma.

“Most people are aware that heartworm disease is carried by mosquitoes and that there are medications available that prevent it,” said Gayle Millard, DVM, of Merial LTD. “What they don’t know is that although prevention of heartworm disease is affordable, treatment of an infected dog is very expensive. They don’t know that the only known chemical that kills adult heartworms is made of arsenic and that the treatment is painful and potentially dangerous. They don’t know that after the heartworms in an infected dog are killed, the dead worms are still in the dog and can’t get out. At this point, the dog still has a long way to go before it is healthy again, and a treated dog must have its activity and exercise severely restricted for months to prevent serious complications. And new research tells us that a treated dog is never ‘good as new.’ Any heartworm that makes it to the lungs will cause permanent damage.”

Preventatives work by killing the heartworm larvae that the dog or cat may have been subjected to in the past 30 days, which is why it is important to give the preventative on time every month. If the preventative is not given, it allows the heartworm to mature past the point where the preventative eradicates them.

For more information please visit the National Heartworm Society at (http://www.heartwormsociety.org/) or Contact Eva Stokas, TVMA Media/Marketing Specialist at estokas@tvma.org 

About TVMA
Founded in 1903, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association is a professional association composed of more than 3,700 veterinarians committed to protecting public health, promoting high educational, ethical and moral standards within the veterinary profession, and educating the public about animal health and its relationship to human health. For more information, call 512/452-4224 or visit 
tvma.org.                                                -###-