Heartworm disease is serious and potentially fatal in dogs. A dog can get this parasite if bitten by an infected mosquito. There’s no way to tell if a mosquito is infected. That’s why prevention is so important. It takes about 6 months once a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. They then lodge in the heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels and begin reproducing. Adult worms can grow up to 12 inches in length. Most dogs with heartworm infection do not show any symptoms until the disease becomes severe. At that stage, symptoms may include:
- difficulty breathing
- reduced appetite and weight loss
- lung, liver, kidney, or heart failure, leading to DEATH.
Heartworm infection is detected by a simple blood test that takes a small amount of blood and a short time to perform. All dogs should be tested for heartworm infection before starting a preventive program if 7 months of age or older and then again annually. Puppies should be started as young as 8 weeks of age on heartworm prevention and if continued, have very little chance of getting infected.
Make Sure That Your Pet Is Protected!
Regardless of the preventative medication that you choose, heartworm prevention is an absolute requirement for your pet’s well-being. Mosquitoes are everywhere (they can even come inside the house) and it only takes one mosquito carrying the heartworm larvae to infect your dog with heartworms. There is no reason to risk your pet’s life when you can easily prevent a problem by spending a few dollars per month on heartworm prevention. Heartworm Prevention must be given once per month year-round. Should your pet be diagnosed with heartworms, the damage that’s done to the dog and the cost of the treatment is much more than the cost to prevent heartworm disease.
As a part of our Preventive Health Care Clinic, we offer low-cost heartworm testing and medication. The purpose of our clinic is to encourage everyone, regardless of income, to properly care for their pets. Our low-cost Preventive Health Care Clinic helps to fulfill our mission to reduce the number of homeless animals and improve the quality of life. Please contact us at 941-474-7884 or visit www.humane.org for more information.