Learn How to Protect Your Dog from Heartworms

Heartworms are a type of roundworm that reside in the heart, lungs, and nearby blood vessels of infected animals, causing heartworm disease, which can be fatal. Although it is treatable, heartworm infection may cause irreversible harm to the heart, lungs, and other organs of the body.


How heartworm is spread

When a dog is bitten by a mosquito, it can contract heartworm larvae from the mosquito. The larvae move through the dog’s body and end up in the blood arteries near the lungs and heart, where they stay for about 6 months. During this time, the larvae grow into adult heartworms that can be as long as 12 inches. These adult heartworms create new heartworms that circulate in the dog’s blood and are transmitted back to mosquitoes when they bite the dog. Then, the cycle repeats.


Diagnosing heartworm

To increase the chances of your dog recovering from heartworm disease, it is important to identify the illness early. Since there are few or no early signs of the disease, it is recommended to test your dog for it every year. A quick blood test can detect heartworms. If your dog does show symptoms of heartworm disease, such as coughing, reluctance to be active, and poor physical condition, it’s important to seek treatment.


Preventing heartworm

For the protection of your dog against heartworm disease, make sure to administer the preventative medication on the same day every month. Additionally, consider using a mosquito repellent product to prevent your dog from being bitten.

During your dog’s yearly preventive care appointment, we will check for heartworms to confirm the success of the preventive measures. Your dog will have a higher 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

Untreated heartworm infections can worsen over time, and even after treatment, they can still affect a dog’s health and well-being.

If your dog needs a heartworm test or yearly preventive care appointment, or if you need a refill for their heartworm preventative, or if you notice symptoms of heartworm infection in your puppy, please give us a call.