Learn More About Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Heartworms are a type of roundworm that live in the heart, lungs, and nearby blood vessels of animals that are infected. This can cause heartworm disease, which is a potentially fatal condition. Although treatable, heartworm infection can cause permanent damage to the heart, lungs, and other organs. 

How heartworm is spread

Mosquitoes can give dogs heartworms when they bite them. The larvae then travel through the dog’s body until they reach the blood vessels of the lungs and heart. The larvae stay in these blood vessels for about 6 months and eventually become adult heartworms, which can be up to 12 inches long. As the adult heartworms produce young heartworms and release them into the dog’s blood, the cycle repeats when another mosquito bites the dog. 

Diagnosing heartworm

Testing your dog for heartworm every year is important because there are few or no early symptoms of the disease. Detecting heartworm early improves the chances of recovery for your dog. A quick blood test can be used to detect heartworm.

If your dog shows signs of heartworm disease, they might cough, avoid physical activity, and have poor physical health.


Preventing heartworm

It is important to give your dog a heartworm preventative on the same day every month to protect them from the disease. It is also recommended to consider using a mosquito-repelling product to help prevent your dog from being bitten.

During your dog’s yearly preventive care appointment, we will check for heartworms to confirm the effectiveness of the preventive care. Your dog may be at a higher 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 more severe over time. Even after treatment, the lingering effects of heartworms can still affect a dog’s health and overall well-being.

If your dog needs a heartworm test or preventive care appointment, or if you need a refill for their heartworm medication, please give us a call. Additionally, if your puppy is showing symptoms of a possible heartworm infection, please contact us.