Vet check up

Heartworm

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:

  • lethargy
  • tiring easily with exercise
  • coughing
  • 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.