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Heartworms, Interceptor, and the Heartworm Project

By Robert Wilson Subscribe to RSS | December 27th 2011 | Views:

Heartworms are icky, parasitical creatures who work their way into the bloodstreams of dogs and cats (but especially dogs), breed, and feed on the host animal's lungs, arteries, and heart. Although heartworms can eventually kill their host dogs, heartworms are relatively easy to prevent when pet owners use prescription medications for heartworm, such as Interceptor.

How Heartworm Works

Heartworm is transmitted by infected mosquitoes carrying immature heartworm larvae. These larvae enter the dog's bloodstream, where they gradually mature and begin to reproduce. Fully grown heartworms can be up to a foot long and prefer to live inside a dog's lungs or major arteries. In very advanced cases, the heartworm is found within the heart itself.

Common symptoms of a heartworm infection include a persistent, hacking cough, nosebleeds, and shortness of breath. Unfortunately, all these symptoms come rather late in the dog's heartworm infection; by the time the dog begins to display these symptoms, the animal is already very, very sick. An initial heartworm infestation usually comes with no symptoms at all.

Eventually, dogs infested with heartworms will develop a pneumonia-like disease as a result of all the damage being done to their lungs. Meanwhile, the arterial obstructions lead to kidney damage, eye damage, joint pain, and blood clots.

How Interceptor Works

It is critical that caring pet owners give their dogs and cats regular heartworm medication. Heartworms are very common; over 1 million dogs are infected with heartworms each year in the US alone. Heartworms are found everywhere in the US and are found in especially high concentrations in areas with a large mosquito population.

Interceptor, like most other heartworm preventatives, kills immature heartworm larvae before they have a chance to grow into breeding adults. While the medication kills the new, immature larvae, it is powerless against adult heartworms. That's why giving heartworm medication to dogs each month, without ever missing a dose, is so important.

Before putting dogs on a heartworm medication like Interceptor, test the dog for heartworms first. If a dog begins to use a preventative tablet such as Interceptor but is already infected, serious complications can arise.

Heartworms in Cats and Humans

The natural host animal for the heartworm is the dog. Foxes, coyotes, and wolves are also acceptable hosts for the parasite. However, heartworms will invade cats if they have no choice, though many cats seem to be capable of ridding their bodies of heartworms on their own.

Very, very rarely, heartworms infect humans. Humans cannot get heartworms from their pets; like dogs, humans who contract heartworms usually get them from mosquitoes. Heartworms have also been known to travel via lice, ticks, flies, and fleas. While a heartworm infection in humans can lead to lung complications, no heartworm infection in a human being has ever been fatal.

The Heartworm Project

Animal lovers will find it heartwarming to hear about The Heartworm Project, a non-profit organization that provides medical treatment of all sorts to shelter animals in need. Shelters in America are overwhelmed by abandoned and neglected dogs who have nowhere to call home. The healthy, lively ones are often adopted; the sick ones are generally euthanized.

Heartworm and many other pet illnesses are easily treatable, but they take money, and that's something that many shelters only have in short supply. To find out how you can help save the lives of sick shelter animals, visit

Have a story about heartworm or helping a dog in need – including your own? Share it below.

Robert Wilson - About Author:
A former pet shop manager and life-long dog lover, Robbie Wilson has extensive experience in helping people with their dogs, cats and other pets. Keeping pets healthy with pet meds like Interceptor is her passion. For information on the latest pet treatments, she often turns to

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