Heartworm is a parasite that causes very serious, potentially fatal, illness in dogs. It is an easily preventable condition, but a heartworm test must be done prior to putting a dog on heartworm prevention. The heartworm test is a simple blood test that can be done quickly during your dog’s visit.
What are the symptoms of heartworm disease in a dog?
In the early stages of heartworm disease, the dog may not have any symptoms or very mild symptoms. Heartworms usually live in the vessels surrounding the dog’s heart, so symptoms most commonly seen are those associated with heart disease. Coughing, exercise intolerance, tiredness, weight loss and decreased appetite are some of the most common symptoms. As the disease progresses, the symptoms become more pronounced and the dog becomes more ill.
How do dogs get heartworm?
The parasite is transmitted by mosquito. An infected dog is bitten by a mosquito who takes a blood meal from the dog. The larvae of the heartworm are in the blood and ingested by the mosquito. The mosquito bites another dog and the larvae are transmitted through the bite. It takes approximately 6 months for the larvae to develop into adult worms.
What are the treatment options for heartworms?
The best option for dealing with heartworm is PREVENTION! There are different prevention options so feel free to discuss which option would work best for your dog with any of our staff members. Prevention typically involves a once-a-month topical product or an oral tablet.
Why is recovery and heartworm treatment challenging?
Treating heartworm disease is challenging because it involves the dog’s cardiovascular system. Treatment requires killing the heartworm parasite and the worms live in some major blood vessels around the heart. Any sudden action could cause blockage to the blood vessels which could result in death for the dog. Treatment needs to be done in intensive care in the hospital with intravenous medications and continuous monitoring with completely restricted activity for the dog. That’s why prevention is ALWAYS the best!