What causes canine heartworm disease?
Infected animals with heartworms develop heartworm disease, a potentially fatal infection. Heartworms are a type of roundworm that live in the heart, lungs, and other blood vessels. Even though heartworm infection is treatable, it can cause long-term damage to the heart, lungs, and other organs.
How heartworms are disseminated
A mosquito bite can cause a dog to contract heartworm larvae. The larvae then proceed through the dog’s body until they come into contact with the blood vessels in the heart and lungs. The larvae stay in those blood vessels for around six months, during which time they mature into adult heartworms that can reach lengths of up to twelve inches. When a dog gets bitten by a mosquito, the cycle is repeated as adult heartworms grow and release young heartworms into the dog’s blood.
The earlier heartworm disease is discovered, the better the chances are for your dog’s recovery. Additionally, since there aren’t many, if any, early signs of the ailment, it’s imperative to test your dog annually. A simple blood test is available to identify heartworms.
If your dog does have heartworm disease, signs could include coughing, a dislike of exercise, and poor physical health.
Giving your dog a heartworm prevention medication on the same day each month is essential for keeping him healthy. Consider using a mosquito repellent product as well, as this will help prevent your dog from being bitten in the first place.
In order to ensure that the prophylactic has been effective, we will screen for heartworms during your dog’s annual preventive care appointment. Infection with heartworms in your dog is more likely if:
- There was a missing dose of a preventative medication
- A late dosage of a preventative medicine was administered
- The dog spat out or vomited the preventative.
Long-term untreated heartworm infections have the potential to worsen. Heartworms can continuously affect the health and quality of life of a dog long after they have been treated and eliminated.