Heartworm Disease in Dogs: What You Should Know

Heartworms are a type of roundworm that live in the heart, lungs, and nearby blood vessels of infected animals, causing heartworm disease which can be deadly. Although treatable, heartworm infection can cause permanent damage to the heart, lungs, and other organs. 

How heartworm is spread

Mosquito bites can transmit heartworm larvae to dogs, which then travel through the body to the lungs and heart’s blood arteries. In around 6 months, the larvae grow into adult heartworms up to 12 inches long, which multiply and release young heartworms into the dog’s bloodstream. The cycle continues when the infected dog is bitten by another mosquito.


Diagnosing heartworm

It’s important to detect heartworm illness early to increase the chances of your dog’s recovery. Testing your dog annually is crucial since there are few, if any, early indications of the condition. A quick blood test can detect heartworms. If your dog is showing symptoms of heartworm disease such as coughing, reluctance to exercise, and poor physical health, it’s important to seek veterinary care.


Preventing heartworm

To protect your dog from heartworm disease, it is important to give them a heartworm preventative on the same day every month. Using a mosquito-repelling product in addition to the preventative can help to prevent mosquito bites. During your dog’s yearly preventive care appointment, we will check for heartworms to ensure that the preventative is working. If you do not follow this routine, your dog will be at a higher risk of getting heartworm disease.

  • 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 being treated and eliminated, heartworms can still affect a dog’s health and well-being.

If your dog needs a heartworm test, yearly preventive care appointment, medication refill, or is displaying symptoms of heartworm infection, please give us a call.