Heart worms a growing epidemic in pets, local veterinarians say - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Heart worms a growing epidemic in pets, local veterinarians say

QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -

A very preventable disease is killing pets, and local veterinarians say it's only getting worse.

Dr. Drew Kaiser with Katherine Road Animal Hospital says about one million dogs in the United States have heartworm disease, which is spread by mosquitoes.

And with this summer looking to be a banner year for mosquitoes, Kaiser says your dog is at a higher risk to catch the disease.

Adding to the problem, Kaiser says because of the down economy many pet owners often don't buy preventative medication.

Something he says is an even more costly mistake.

"We've had some big old wooly dogs, and you think, 'where is the mosquito going to bite them?' And they have it! And it's very expensive to treat. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound to cure, and it's a lot less expensive to just use the preventative tablets," said Kaiser.

Kaiser says even though testing for heart worms begins at six months for dogs, you can start giving your pet preventative medications at any age.

Symptoms of heartworm infestation are tiring easily and a deep cough.

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