This is a pictures of heartworms that have been removed from a dogs heart. Not a pretty sight is it?
Heartworm disease is a serious condition caused by worms living in the arteries of the lungs and occasionally in the right side of the heart but did you know that dogs and cats of any age or breed are susceptible to infection? It's because Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes that become infected while taking a blood meal from an infected animal.
When the mosquito then bites another dog or cat (like your pet,) larvae are deposited on the skin. The larvae then take a 2 month road trip through the connective tissue, under the skin, then pass into the animal’s blood stream and are quickly transported to the arteries of the lung. It takes a total of approximately six months for the infective larvae to mature into adult worms that begin producing offspring. Adult heartworms can live for five to seven years in the dog.
The consequence of these worms residing in the dog is the development of problems with their lungs and heart, like heart failure. Many dogs do not show any signs of heartworm disease until the disease is in advanced stages. It is important to test dogs on a regular basis in order to catch the disease before it gets to that point. The American Heartworm Society encourages testing on an annual basis. When was the last time your pets were tested for heartworms?
Don’t let your pets heartworm end up in your heartache! It is very easy to prevent heartworm disease. It can be as simple as giving your dog a tablet once a month all year round. There are topical forms of the medication as well. Call you vet to discuss the options for your pet.