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Heartworm Prevention for Your Dog

July 15, 2019

Now that summer has taken hold, many pests are ready and waiting to wreak havoc on our canine companions’ health. Heartworm is one of the most dangerous. Learn more about heartworm disease and prevention in this article from a Thorold, ON vet.

How is Heartworm Contracted?

Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes. They pick up immature forms of the worm, called microfilariae , upon biting an infested animal. Microfilariae develop into larvae inside the mosquito, and then get transmitted into your dog when the mosquito bites him. In your dog’s body, the larvae develop into adult worms and start migrating through your dog’s tissues toward the heart and lungs.

What are the Symptoms?

A dog might be symptom-free for a time after being infested by heartworms. When symptoms do show up, they may include a persistent cough, loss of appetite, lethargy, weight loss, respiratory trouble, and—if the problem isn’t treated quickly—heart failure and even death.

How is Heartworm Treated?

Your dog will need blood drawn to determine if he is heartworm-positive. When this is confirmed, medication will be administered to kill off adult heartworms, and then a separate medication will be used to kill microfilariae. This process is time-consuming and risky, so a dog undergoing heartworm treatment must be closely monitored until the situation is resolved completely.

How Do I Prevent Heartworm?

Obviously, preventing a heartworm infestation is the far superior idea for your dog’s health and wellness. This can be accomplished by keeping your dog on a quality heartworm preventative, which will kill off immature worms before they can develop into adults and start causing serious health trouble.

With the occasional exception, it’s usually recommended that your dog stays on a year-round heartworm preventative so that your dog is fully protected at all times. These preventatives are a good investment because they also protect against other common types of parasitic worms, like hookworms and roundworms. Your dog’s heartworm preventative might come in a pill or tablet form to be given by mouth, or it could be applied topically to your dog’s skin in a gel form. Still other heartworm preventatives are administered by injection at your vet’s office.

Does your dog need a heartworm preventative to stay protected against these dangerous pests? We’re here to help. Set up an appointment right away with your Thorold, ON animal hospital to get your dog the protection he needs to stay safe.