Heartworm disease is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Although heartworms are very prevalent in our area of the country, there are still many people who are not familiar with this disease.
To help explain how heartworms are spread, let’s take a dog that currently has heartworms. A mosquito bites this dog and takes in immature heartworms that are deposited into the skin of other dogs they bite. Once an infected mosquito has bitten a dog, these immature heartworms migrate to the heart where they develop into adult heartworms. Adult heartworms block blood flow, damage vessels, and can ultimately cause life threatening problems such as heart failure. Other organs can be damaged including the liver, kidneys, and lungs. Advanced heartworm disease is devastating to you and your dogs.
Luckily, there are very effective heartworm preventatives available. All preventatives must be given year-round to adequately protect your dog from heartworms. In most cases, your dog must be tested prior to starting the preventative, or restarting after missing one or more doses.
If you find out your dog does have heartworms there is a treatment available. However, any organ damage that has occurred cannot be reversed and treatment can be costly. It is far easier and less expensive to prevent this deadly disease. Also, remember that even dogs that live primarily indoors are susceptible to heartworm disease. Anywhere that mosquitoes can go is a place your dog may become infected.