Heartworms are exactly what they sound like – worms that invade and live in your dog’s heart. They are transmitted to dogs by mosquitos. If left untreated they are potentially fatal for your dog. Not all regions have mosquitos which carry the heartworm larvae and thankfully our area is one that has not experienced much of a problem with this parasite. Having said that, we do know that heartworm is very common in our neighbouring States. If your dog travels south of the border, regular blood testing for heartworm would be important, as early detection gives your dog the best chance for a successful treatment.
What are the symptoms of heartworm in a dog?
In the early stages of heartworm infection there may be no noticeable symptoms. As the infection progresses, you may notice weight loss, fatigue, coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Occasionally worms can migrate to the limbs or eyes.
How do dogs get heartworm?
Heartworm disease is spread by a bite from an infected mosquito.
What are the treatment options for heartworm?
There are many great medications that we have available for you to give your dog – starting a month before mosquito season and extending to a month after mosquito season to prevent them from picking up this parasite. If they are diagnosed with an infection, your veterinarian will tailor a treatment protocol to your dog to make it as safe as possible.
Why is recovery and heartworm treatment challenging?
Depending on when a heartworm infection is diagnosed there may already be severe and lasting damage to the heart, such that heart failure can be a complication. When treating heartworm infections, allergic reaction to the dying worms can occur as well as embolism within the lungs.