Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal disease caused by a blood-borne parasite. Adult heartworms are found in the heart and adjacent large blood vessels of infected dogs. Adult heartworms may live up to five years.
The origin of heartworms
The transmission requires the mosquito as an intermediate host so the disease is not spread directly from dog to dog or cat to cat. Spread of the disease therefore coincides with mosquito season, which can last year-round in many parts of the United States.
Adult heartworms cause disease by clogging the heart and major blood vessels leading from the heart. They also interfere with the blood supply to other organs of the body. The signs of heartworm disease depend on the number of adult worms present, the location of the worms, the length of time the worms have been in the dog and the degree of damage that has been sustained by the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.
Signs of heartworm disease
A dry cough, shortness of breath, weakness, nervousness, listlessness are symptoms that you want to watch for. These are noticeable following exercise, when pets may even faint or become disoriented. Severely infected pets may die suddenly during exercise or excitement.
The heartworm test is a simple procedure where blood is drawn from your pet and tested in the clinic with an immediate result. You can call the office at 303.732.5754 to schedule your appointment. Initial heartworm testing should begin at 7 months of age and retesting is recommended every 12 months for the life of your pet.
You can prevent your animal from getting heartworms by using a heartworm preventive. Prevention is safe, affordable, and strongly recommended year-round. Heartworm preventives are available by prescription only.