Why Heartworm Prevention Is Important for Your Dog
Heartworms are a type of roundworm that live in the heart, lungs, and nearby blood vessels of affected animals, causing heartworm disease, which can be fatal. Although it is 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 migrate through the body and settle in the lungs and heart’s blood arteries. Over a period of about 6 months, the larvae mature into adult heartworms that can reach up to 12 inches in length. These adult worms reproduce and release young worms into the dog’s blood, which can be transmitted to other dogs via mosquito bites.
Early detection of heartworm disease is important for better recovery chances in dogs. Therefore, it is recommended to test your dog annually as there are usually no early signs of the disease. A quick blood test can detect heartworms. Symptoms of heartworm disease may include coughing, reluctance to exercise, and poor physical condition.
It’s important to give your dog a heartworm preventative on the same day every month to ensure protection against the disease. Additionally, considering a mosquito-repellent product can help prevent your dog from being bitten by mosquitoes in the first place.
We’ll check for heartworms during your dog’s yearly preventive care appointment to be sure the preventive has been successful. Your dog will be at increased 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
If left untreated, heartworm infections can become worse 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 or yearly preventive care appointment, if you need to refill their heartworm preventative, or if your puppy is displaying symptoms that could be a sign of a heartworm infection, please call us.