Heartworm Disease: Prevalence and Year-round Prevention

Heartworm disease is a serious but preventable condition. It affects dogs, cats and ferrets and can be potentially fatal. Heartworm is spread from one pet to another by mosquitoes, and both indoor and outdoor pets are at risk.

According to Banfield’s Applied Research and Knowledge team, dogs living in the South Central region of the United States are almost 30 times more likely to test positive for heartworms than dogs living in the Northwest region. But it doesn’t matter where you live, because heartworm disease is present in all 50 states.

Year-round prevention is recommended because of often unpredictable weather patterns and the serious nature of the disease. An annual heartworm test for your pet is highly recommended as well, to ensure that a pet isn’t already infected when placed on heartworm preventives.

Preventives are readily available, easy to administer and inexpensive. Although the risk of heartworm exposure is more common during the warmer months, it is a year-round condition that requires a year-round preventive. Options for prevention include oral and topical medications, and in dogs, an injection called ProHeart® 6, which lasts for six months.

For more information about heartworm disease, symptoms, and diagnosis and treatment, read the "Preventing Heartworm Disease in Pets" article in the Banfield pet health library.