Heartworm is a preventable but serious and potentially fatal parasite that primarily infects dogs, cats, and a variety of wild animals. Heartworms can only be transmitted from animal to animal by mosquitoes. The tiny larvae enter the pet’s bloodstream and migrate through to parts of the body where they start to grow into larger worms.

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If a dog has heartworms, what symptoms should I look for?

In earlier stages, you may not even know your dog has been infected with heartworms as they are very, very small. As they grow, you may start to notice a mild, persistent cough, tiredness and a reluctance to exercise. Later stages include a more developed cough, trouble breathing, and even coughing up blood. If left untreated heartworm disease can be fatal.

How does a dog get heartworms?

Heartworms can only be transmitted from infected animal to animal by mosquitoes.

What are the prevention and treatment options for heartworms?

Routine heartworm testing is number one when it comes to prevention and treatment. We use an in-house parasite test called a 4DX which tests for heartworm, Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma (tick borne diseases). It is essential to make sure your dog has not been infected with heartworm before going on any preventives. Preventatives are all given monthly from June – November. We recommend Interceptor Plus for heartworm prevention, which also treats intestinal parasites and combines well with most flea and tick treatments.

Why is recovery for heartworm treatment so challenging?

Without routine heartworm testing or prevention we won’t know if your pet is infected until symptoms appear. It can be costly to treat the adult form of heartworm, not to mention risky for the patient. Unfortunately, even with treatment, it will not be able to undo any damage created to the heart and lungs from the adult heartworm. This is why we recommend prevention! Contact the clinic to discuss your pet’s heartworm testing and prevention needs.

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