What is Heartworm?
As heartworm season is fast approaching so are the mosquitoes. We would like to take this time to inform you on the importance of the heartworm blood screening and also on what heartworm disease is. The canine heartworm, Dirofilaria immitis, is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year. It not only causes destruction to the heart but also to the liver, lungs and kidneys.
Heartworm disease is transmitted through the mosquito. When a mosquito feeds on an infected dog it picks up the heartworm larvae through the blood meal. The larvae then exit the mosquito’s mouthpart and are deposited on the skin of the healthy dog. Once the larvae reach the heart they begin to grow into mature adults and start reproducing new larvae that are then deposited into the bloodstream. Adult heartworm reside in the right portion of the heart and can grow to be as long as 14 inches. Once the worms have fully infested the heart they can cause thickening of the lungs, causing an increase in blood pressure and greatly increasing the workload of the heart. As a result the heart eventually becomes unable to compensate for this increase and death can result.
Prevention for this devastating disease is as simple as making an appointment for the heartworm blood screening test. If the test results are negative, your pet is put on a once a month prevention for six months. If the test results return positive then treatment options will be discussed with your veterinarian. We encourage you to call today and help protect your animal by making an appointment for the heartworm test. We are more than happy to answer any of your questions so please don’t hesitate to call the office.