HEARTWORM is transmitted by mosquitos. When a mosquito feeds on an infected dog, it sucks up tiny microfilariae which mature into heartworm larvae while in the mosquito. When that mosquito then feeds off of another animal, the larvae are injected and travel through the circulatory system to the heart and lungs, where they grow into adult worms and begin to reproduce.
SIGNS that an infected dog may present with include:
- a dry persistent cough
- not able to exercise as much
- weight loss
And in more advanced cases, they may show signs of congestive heart failure, breathing difficulties, organ damage, distended abdomen and even collapse.
PREVENTION is much better than a cure. Heartworm can be easily prevented by daily, monthly tablets, or a yearly injection. Heartworm prevention medication should be started at about 3 months of age. If your dog has not been on heartworm prevention, or is overdue, it may require a simple blood test first. This only takes about 10 minutes to get the results. If it is negative, then we can start heartworm prevention immediately. If it is positive, then we will discuss treatment options with you.
TREATMENT of a dog that already has heartworm can take up to 6 months. It involves daily tablets and a serious of injections to kill the heartworms. When the heartworms die, they can cause serious health issues and even death for your dog. Stopping your dog from getting heartworm is a much safer option than treating for it.
CATS can get heartworm too.