By: Dr. Shanna Plitt, Veterinarian

The American Veterinary Medical Association [AVMA] recognizes April as National Heartworm Awareness Month. And for good reason, too! Spring is springing which gives us longer days and more time outside for activities. Unfortunately, mosquitoes come out for the warm weather, as well, and they aren’t picky when it comes to their victims – they like humans, dogs and cats! Aside from just being down right annoying, mosquitoes can carry the threat of heartworm disease.

Mosquitoes can carry microscopic heartworm larvae known as microfilaria, and it only takes one mosquito bite from an infected mosquito to deposit the microfilaria into your pet. This microfilaria matures into foot-long adults that live in the heart and blood vessels of infected animals.

Signs of heartworm infection can include:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sometimes no outward signs at all!

This can lead to lung and heart disease and can progress to heart failure and death if left undiagnosed and untreated. Your veterinarian can perform a blood test in the hospital to find out if your pet is infected with heartworm disease or not.

It is extremely important to make sure that your pet is protected against this serious and potentially fatal condition.  While heartworm treatment is available, and most successful if implemented early in the disease process, prevention is the best protection. Prevention is also a much more cost-effective way to address heartworm disease, as treatment is much more costly than prevention.

Heartworm disease has been routinely documented in Maryland. Huffard Animal Hospital treats several cases every year.  The veterinarians at Huffard Animal Hospital would love to discuss heartworm testing and the forms of heartworm prevention available. Give us a call at 410.768.3620 or click here to request an appointment online.

For more information on heartworm disease check out the American Heartworm Society website at


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