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Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Heartworms refer to a type of roundworm that resides in the heart, lungs, and nearby blood vessels of infected animals, causing the potentially fatal condition known as heartworm disease. Although the disease is treatable, it can cause lasting damage to the heart, lungs, and other organs of the body. 

How is heartworm spread?

Mosquitos can transmit heartworm larvae to dogs when they bite them. The larvae travel through the dog’s body until they reach the blood vessels around the lungs and heart, where they stay for about 6 months. During this time, they grow into fully developed heartworms that can be up to 12 inches long. These adult heartworms produce more young heartworms that circulate in the dog’s blood, continuing the cycle when another mosquito bites the dog. 

How to prevent heartworm

It is important to give your dog a heartworm preventative on the same day each month to protect them against the disease. Additionally, consider using a mosquito-repelling product as well. This can help prevent your dog from being bitten and contracting heartworm.

During your dog’s annual preventive care appointment, we will confirm if the preventive measure has been effective in preventing heartworms. Please note that if your dog is at risk of heartworm infection, its chances of contracting the disease will increase.

  • A scheduled preventive medication was not taken as directed
  • The preventive medication was administered later than scheduled
  • The dog either spit out or vomited the preventative

Heartworm infections can become worse if they are not treated promptly. Even after the treatment, heartworms can affect a dog’s health and quality of life for an extended period.

How is heartworm diagnosed?

To increase the chances of your dog’s recovery from heartworm illness, it’s important to detect the disease early. Since there are few or no early symptoms of the condition, it’s recommended to test your dog every year with a quick blood test. Symptoms of heartworm disease may include coughing, lethargy, and poor physical condition.

If your dog needs a heartworm test, yearly preventive care appointment, or refill for their heartworm preventative, or if your puppy is showing symptoms of a heartworm infection, please contact us by phone.