A Spreading Threat!
Thanks largely to our increasingly mobile society, canine heartworm disease is continuing to spread into previously untouched parts of North America. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, so it is a serious problem wherever mosquitoes survive.
If you have just adopted a puppy or have moved into this area from a location where canine heartworm disease is not a problem, we would like to discuss preventive medication with you as soon as possible. This kind of protection is vital for the health of your dog.
Why Heartworm is deadly!
There are several reasons why heartworm disease is such a deadly threat to dogs in many parts of the nation, including this area.
If a dog is infected with heartworm and is bitten by a mosquito, heartworm embryos called microfilariae will be picked up by the mosquito, embryos become infected larvae within a period of days. As the mosquito travels to dogs during its normal feeding process, the embryos are injected into other dogs, they then spend three or four months traveling through the tissues of the body to the dog’s heart. Once the embryos reach the heart, they mature in about three months. Dozens may reach adult size – up to 12 or 14 inches in length – in another three months. Adult heartworm can also be found in the dog’s heart and major blood vessels and sometimes in other veins between the heart and the lung and other organs. In advance cases, more than 200 worms can be found in a single heart.
One major problem is that you can’t see any of the symptoms of illness in your dog until the adult worms are firmly established and causing major damage as heartworm embryos continue to be released into the circulation system. Symptoms finally become obvious after several months. These signs include decreased tolerance of exercise and later, a soft wheeze or cough, weight loss, chronic tiredness and fainting. Since the disease might not be obvious for years (and very possibly too late to treat successfully), annual testing is vital.
How To Stop It From Starting!
The ideal way to battle heartworm disease is to have your dog tested for this threat early in life and if the results are negative, use preventative medication regularly from then on. One strong note of caution is this: if preventive medication is administered to a pet already infected by the disease, a reaction can occur which could be life-threatening.
Therefore, keep these key points in mind:
It’s vital to have your dog tested for heartworm before starting preventive medication.
Annual testing for heartworm disease is essential to help ensure your pet is free from this deadly disease. Any questions? If so, please ask us. Timely questions may be the key to saving your dog’s life.