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Prevent Heartworm Disease in Your Dog

Heartworms are a particular kind of roundworm that dwell in the heart, lungs and nearby blood vessels of infected animals, leading to a serious and potentially lethal heartworm disease. Though the disease has a treatment, the infection can leave lasting harm to vital organs like the heart and lungs.


How heartworm is spread

Mosquitoes can transfer heartworm larvae to dogs when they bite them. These larvae travel through the dog’s body and eventually reach the blood arteries of the heart and lungs. They stay in these arteries for approximately six months, growing into adult heartworms that can be as long as 12 inches. Adult heartworms reproduce and release young heartworms into the dog’s bloodstream, and the cycle repeats when another mosquito bites the dog.


Diagnosing heartworm

To increase the chances of your dog’s recovery from heartworm disease, it’s important to detect it early. Since there are few or no early signs of the disease, it’s recommended to get your dog tested annually for heartworms using a simple blood test. If your dog does show symptoms of heartworm disease, they may include coughing, decreased energy, and poor physical condition.


Preventing heartworm

It’s important to give your dog a heartworm preventative on the same day every month to keep them protected from the disease. Consider using a mosquito-repelling product too, as this can prevent your dog from being bitten in the first place.

We’ll check for heartworms during your dog’s yearly preventive care appointment to be sure the preventive has been successful. Your dog will be at increased risk of heartworm infection if:

  • A dose of preventive medication was missed
  • A dose of preventive medication was given late
  • The preventive was spit out or vomited by the dog

If left untreated, heartworm infections can worsen over time. Even after treatment, the impact of heartworms on a dog’s health and quality of life can persist.

If your dog needs a heartworm test or a yearly preventive care appointment, if you need a refill for their heartworm preventative, or if your puppy is showing symptoms that may indicate a heartworm infection, please call us.