5 Things Every Dog Owner Needs To Know About Heartworm Disease

5 Things Every Dog Owner Needs To Know About Heartworm Disease

1 Heartworm disease is a condition where adult worms live inside the heart and pulmonary arteries.They can cause significant damage and eventually heart failure. Heartworm disease is present in all 50 states.

2 Heartworm disease is spread through mosquito bites. Heartworm larvae are transferred into the skin from the mosquito saliva. The larvae then migrate to the heart where they mature into adult worms.These worms can reach up to 14 inches in length. Transmission depends on environmental conditions which can vary from year to year. In Colorado, heartworm disease is a problem in the spring through the fall.

3 The American Heartworm Society recommends testing dogs once a year. Dogs who have heartworm disease may not show any symptoms for several years, allowing heart and lung damage to progress undetected. This is why it is so important to test dogs on an annual basis. Once the disease becomes severe, dogs may develop a cough, exercise intolerance, lung disease and heart failure. Resulting lung and heart damage may be permanent if the heartworm disease is not diagnosed early. A heartworm test is quick and easy. It entails collecting a very small blood sample which is submitted to a diagnostic laboratory or tested in the clinic.

4 This illness can be treated if diagnosed early. The treatment can be very costly, lengthy and usually requires a 4-6 month recovery time. There are potential side-effects with the treatment and dogs have to be restricted from exercise for the duration of recovery. Another reason to prevent the disease in the first place!

5 Heartworm disease can easily be prevented. There are several preventatives available, most of which are chews or tablets given on a monthly basis. These medications are only available through a licensed veterinarian. All dogs 6 months or older must have a heartworm test done before starting on a preventative. The medications used as preventative are very different from those used to treat heartworm disease. If a dog is positive for heartworm disease, giving the preventative could potentially be fatal.


If your dog is not on heartworm prevention or has not had a heartworm test in the past year, now is a good time to discuss these preventative measure with your veterinarian.


Whole Pet Wellness Veterinary Services provides stress-free, in-home veterinary care and consultations for dogs and cats in the Denver Metro area. If you would like to make an appointment for your pet please contact us at (720)583-4442 or info@wholepetwellness.com


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