Heartworm is a parasite best dealt with through preventative care. At the South Side Animal Clinic, serving Rolla, MO, and the surrounding communities, our holistic veterinarian has years of experience providing local pet owners with natural pet care services. This includes many preventive care options such as pet vaccinations and heartworm prevention. Let's discuss everything you should know about heartworms and the importance of prevention. 


General Information About Heartworm

Heartworm is a roundworm that travels to your pet's heart as the name suggests. It can live in your pet's lungs or blood vessels. Heartworm is only spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, not through pet-to-pet contact. What happens is that a mosquito becomes infected with heartworm. The pest then bites your pet and transmits the heartworm. The worms transmit to your pet as larvae. Within about six to seven months, they'll mature and become adult heartworms. These adults can then mate and continue to infect your pet.

Female heartworms grow between 10 and 12 inches in length, while males are between four and six inches. An infected pet usually has around 15 worms, but the number of worms can range from one to 250. Dogs are more likely to be hosts for heartworm than cats. While cats can become infected, it's more difficult for the heartworm to survive in a cat's body.

Signs of Heartworm

Early on, there may be very few noticeable symptoms of heartworm infestation. That's why heartworm isn't usually caught in the early stages. As the worm continues to thrive, your pet may cough or feel tired after moderate activity. Once the infection advances, your pet may cough more frequently and feel tired even after mild activity. Your pet may have difficulty breathing at this point as well as a loss in appetite. His or her belly may also swell.

In cats, you may notice vomiting, a lack of appetite, weight loss, difficulty walking, or even fainting or seizures. The most serious issue is caval syndrome, which is when the worms block blood flow to the heart, the only option is surgery. 


Heartworm is a serious but preventable issue. Our doctor can discuss natural pet care options that work to prevent them. Generally, this preventative care includes methods to keep mosquitoes away from your pet. Heartworm prevention medication can be given in oral or topical form. Additionally, you can discuss the option of a heartworm prevention injection when you discuss other pet vaccinations with our vet. 

Contact Our Holistic Veterinarian in Rolla for Heartworm Prevention

If you suspect your pet has been infected with heartworms or are looking for natural and effective heartworm prevention measures, contact South Side Animal Clinic today. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us today at (573) 426-3647" class="piwik_ignore">(573) 426-3647.