Heartworm disease is a devastating parasitic disease that can affect and be propagated in dogs of all breeds and sizes. Cats can become infected and develop severe disease, but they are not able to propagate the parasite. We once thought New Mexico was a relatively low incidence area. However, incidence maps from the past few years, including the 2016 map above, show that heartworm activity is significant throughout the state and that activity is considered high in New Mexico’s urban areas.
Based on this new information, we have decided to align ourselves with the American Heartworm Society’s heartworm recommendations. The main difference is switching from testing for heartworm every other year to testing annually. We still recommend year-round prevention. Microclimates throughout the city (water features, lawns, warm spots in the built environment, etc.) and frequent warm periods even during average winters make year-round mosquito activity a possibility.
Because of the significant incidence of this disease, we are starting to recommend heartworm prevention in certain cats as well. Cats who live near water (ditches, the Rio Grande, etc.) should be on a monthly heartworm preventative. Indoor/outdoor cats throughout the city should be on a heartworm preventative, too. Cats who hunt, which includes most cats who go outside, are at an increased risk for parasitism, and many heartworm preventatives reliably prevent infestation of most of the common intestinal parasites we see in the area.
You can learn more about heartworm at heartwormsociety.org.
Still have questions about heartworm and how it can affect your pet? Give Aztec Animal Clinic a call at 505-265-4939.