Heartworms- is it really a worm?

Heartworms- is it really a worm?

If you have a pet, you’ve probably heard of heartworms. You may not know exactly what they are, or maybe you think it’s just another reminder you get in the mail, but either way I would like to use this post to explain the mystery of heartworms.

  • How does your pet get heartworms?

Mosquitos! Which by the way, are EVERY WHERE  including Colorado. Not every mosquito carries the infection, but in the southern states the risk is much higher.

  • Is it really a worm?

Yes- in the adult stages these worms average around 10″ and they live and grow in the heart.

  • What signs would your pet show if infected?

Likely,  none.  Unfortunately by the time most pets show any signs of heartworm disease (coughing), the disease has advanced and permanent heart damage has been done.

  • Why heartworm test every year?

heartworm prevention kills the heartworms at a certain life stage before they become adults.  If your dog is positive, and prevention is given, the sudden killing of those heartworms can cause anaphylactic response or can cause embolism leading to acute death.

  • What at if I miss a few days of prevention?

Heartworm prevention works by killing the immature heartworm larvae before it turns into an adult. Once an adult, the prevention will no longer be effective and the adult heartworm will persist.  If you are not the giving the prevention at the same time each month, there’s a chance the immature worm becomes an adult.

  • What is the treatment?

If your dog is positive, your veterinarian will start a treatment protocol to most effectively and safely kill the heartworms.  This includes months of pills, injections, and strict kennel rest.  The damage is irreversible even if the heartworms are effectively treated

Image result for heartworms

conclusion: talk to your vet. Prevention is much easier than treatment and much safer for your pet!

For more information go to American heartworm society. They are the leading council for reasearch and protocols.

 

*image courtesy google image

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