Heartworm Disease in Dogs By Your Carmel Animal Hospital

Heartworm Disease in Dogs By Your Carmel Animal Hospital

What is heartworm disease?  How does my dog become infected with heartworms?  Heartworms are parasites that are transmitted to dogs from the bite of an infected mosquito.  Heartworms (or Dirofilaria immitis) live in the heart and blood vessels of the lungs of infected dogs.  Once infected, several hundred worms can live inside your dog for up to 7 years.  Although outside dogs have a higher risk of heartworms, any dog who goes outside to potty is at risk in endemic areas such as the area around our Carmel animal hospital.

What are the symptoms of heartworm disease in dogs?  How is heartworm disease diagnosed?  Heartworm disease takes a few months to develop once your dog is bitten by an infected mosquito.  Often there are no clinical signs in the early stages with fewer worms when your dog can compensate for the infection.  Eventually dogs infected with heartworms will start coughing, having trouble breathing, become lethargic, and will be unable to complete normal exercise like going for your evening walk.  Some dogs will also have a decreased appetite, vomiting, and weight loss.  Heartworm disease is easily diagnosed with a simple in-house blood test.  In dogs who test positive at our Carmel animal hospital, we often take X-rays to show the extent of the damage to the heart and surrounding blood vessels.

How can heartworms be prevented?  There are several different medications available now to prevent this terrible disease from flavored treats to topical and injectable medications.  Due to the increased incidence of heartworms in our area, all dogs over the age of 6 months should be tested prior to starting any heartworm preventative and retested once a year to ensure they are still negative.  Heartworms disease does have a treatment, but it is very expensive as well as very hard on the dog.  Like most diseases we see at our Carmel animal hospital, prevention of heartworm disease is the key.

For more information on our Caring Hands Compassionate Hearts, click on this link to your Carmel Animal Hospital.

Comments are closed.