Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal disease, caused by parasitic worms that invade a dog’s body. A mosquito that has bitten an infected animal transmits worm larvae to the new host, usually another dog. The larvae enter the dog’s bloodstream and migrate to various parts of the body where they grow into large worms. The most common infection sites are the blood vessels of the dog’s heart and lungs. If you suspect your pet may be infected, you need to know how to test your dog for heartworm, before they cause irreversible damage.
What are the symptoms of heartworm in a dog?
Unfortunately, dogs don’t show signs of heartworm disease, until it is very advanced. For this reason, our veterinarians recommend yearly heartworm testing, as well as routine prevention.
How do dogs get heartworm?
Heartworm disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Your dog does not have to come into contact with another infected dog, feces, urine, etc. It’s because of the ease of transmission, that our veterinary team highly recommends yearly testing, as well as routine prevention.
What are the treatment options for heartworm?
Once your pet is positive for heartworm, there is adult heartworm living inside their heart. The only treatment available is to give them several injections of a derivative of arsenic, designed to target and kill those worms. Then your dog has to stay very quiet for many weeks after treatment, while their body resorbs the dead and dying worms. It is survivable but very difficult and risky, it is far better to prevent. Another option is to put them on year-round heartworm prevention for a minimum of two years. There can be a lot of damage to the heart during that time, however, which is why the fast kill option is preferred.