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What is heartworm?
Unfortunately, it’s as scary as it sounds: worms that live in your dog’s heart! Heartworm disease can readily kill dogs, but it's also readily preventable.
How do dogs get heartworm?
- Mosquitoes transmit the disease to dogs by injecting tiny heartworm larvae into their skin.
- The larvae develop in the tissues and migrate to the heart where they grow into adult worms.
- The adults live in the heart and the large blood vessels surrounding the heart.
- They reproduce and release more larval offspring into the dog’s blood stream.
- These larvae can then be taken by a mosquito and transmitted to another dog or cat.
What are signs my dog may have heartworm?
Due to the stress that adult worms have on a dog’s heart, there are often clinical signs of heart disease or heart failure such as:
- tiring easily with exercise
- loss of appetite
- enlarged abdomen
How do vets check for heartworm?
- A blood test to see if adult heartworms or their offspring are present
- Chest radiographs and ultrasound may also be used
How can I treat heartworm?
Heartworm can be treated, but it carries risks for your dog and there are no guarantees of success. Your dog may need a series of arsenic-based injections or even surgery to remove the adult worms from their heart. As with most of these sorts of things, prevention is better than cure.
When should I start my puppy on a heartworm prevention program?
Protect your puppy against heartworm by starting them on heartworm prevention from 12 weeks of age. Ask your vet about simple, year-round heartworm prevention so that:
- Your puppy will be protected from heartworm all year long
- You don’t miss a dose
- They continue to be protected all year long as an adult dog
Ask your vet about simplifying your dog’s year-round heartworm prevention today.
Heartworm Surveillance project
If you think your dog is safe from heartworm, it’s time to learn about the real risks. Watch the video below.