Heartworm Disease in Dogs – Important Information

Heartworms are a type of roundworm that inhabit the heart, lungs, and blood vessels surrounding the heart of infected animals, causing heartworm disease, a potentially fatal condition. Despite being treatable, heartworm disease can cause irreversible damage to the heart, lungs, and other organs.

How heartworm is transmitted

When a mosquito bites a canine, it is able to transmit heartworm larvae. The larvae then travel through the dog’s body until they reach the pulmonary and cardiac blood arteries. The larvae remain in the blood vessels for approximately six months, during which time they mature into adult heartworms that can reach a maximum length of 12 inches. As adult heartworms multiply and release young heartworms into a canine’s blood, the cycle is perpetuated when a mosquito bites the dog.

Identifying parasite

The sooner heartworm disease is identified, the greater the likelihood of recovery for your canine. Additionally, it is essential to test your canine annually because there are few, if any, early signs of the disease. Heartworms can be identified through a simple blood test.

Symptoms of heartworm disease in your dog could include wheezing, aversion to physical activity, and poor physical condition.

Preventing heartworm disease

It is essential to give your canine a heartworm preventative on the same day each month to protect him from the disease. It is also advisable to consider a product that repels mosquitoes, as this will prevent your canine from being bitten in the first place.

During your dog’s annual preventive care appointment, we will screen for heartworms to ensure that the preventative has been effective. Your dog’s risk of heartworm infection increases if:

A preventive medication dose was omitted.

A delayed dose of preventive medication was administered.

The canine spit out or vomited the preventative.

Heartworm infections can worsen as time passes without treatment. Heartworms can affect a dog’s health and quality of life even after they have been eliminated and treated.

Call us if your dog requires a heartworm test or annual preventive care appointment, if you need a refill for their heartworm preventative, or if your canine is exhibiting symptoms that could be indicative of a heartworm infection.