What is heartworm disease?
Canine heartworm disease is a serious, deadly disease affecting thousands of dogs each year. Because of a parasite that lodges in the heart commonly known as heartworms, many dogs become permanently debilitated or die from lung, heart, or circulatory problems.
How does my dog get heartworm disease?
(1) The tiny immature heartworms are transmitted ONLY through the bite of a mosquito.
(2) At first, the parasites move into your dog’s tissues. Eventually they reach the heart and become lodged there.
(3) As the worms grow and reproduce, immature heartworms are released into the blood stream.
Now mosquitoes can bite your dog and pick up these new immature heartworms and transmit them to another dog.
Is heartworm disease serious?
Yes, it’s very serious. Heartworms interfere with the normal flow of blood from the right side of the heart to the vessels serving the lungs. If left untreated, canine heartworm disease can significantly reduce your dog’s quality of life, cause congestive failure of the heart and other organs, and ultimately can lead to death.
What are the symptoms of heartworm disease?
Early symptoms are discreet and you may not be able to observe them. Infected dogs become less active and tire easily. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include a soft wheeze or cough, weight loss, tiredness and even fainting. Adult heartworms are usually found in the heart and major blood vessels and sometimes in the lungs and liver. They can grow from 5 to 14 inches in length and in severe cases over a hundred may be present.
How do I know if my dog has heartworm disease?
Diagnosis of heartworm disease is determined by examination of the blood under a microscope to determine if the immature heartworms are present. Occult heartworm disease (heartworm disease without the presence of immature heartworms circulating in the blood) is present in 20% to 30% of dogs. Detection of the adult heartworms in the heart is possible through the use of an antibody blood test.
How can my dog be treated if he has heartworm disease?
A complete physical and medical examination is necessary to determine your pet’s health and how severe the heartworm disease is. Blood work and possibly x-rays may be needed as part of the complete evaluation of you pets condition prior to heartworm treatment. Normally treatment consists of two injections of Immitacide (Currently the most effective and safe drug available for the treatment of adult heartworms) given 24 hours apart. Your dog will be kept in the hospital during this time so his health may be monitored. The veterinarian may administer other medications on a case by case basis as needed. Your dog may need medications following this treatment to kill any immature heartworms in the blood.
Can heartworm disease be prevented?
Yes, heartworm disease can be prevented.There are chewable forms of heartworm prevention that must be given once a month. This type of prevention can be started at 2 months of age to protect your pet against heartworms. Although these heartworm preventions are very effective, yearly heartworm tests are necessary to assure that your pet has not been infected with this disease.
Don’t gamble with your pet’s life!
In Texas alone there were over 38,500 reported cases of heartworm disease. Contact us about the heartworm preventive program that will best protect your pet! Don’t let your pet become one of these statistics.