With Spring soon upon us its time to start preparing for the upcoming heartworm season. Heartworm is caused by a parasite called dirofiliaria immitis. It is spread to dogs, and recently cats, by a mosquito. The mosquito is a necessary part of the life cycle. Traditionally this disease only occurred in hot and humid states that were essential to mosquito breeding. The disease occurs throughout our country now, although heatworm preventive medications have had a significant effect in lowering the incidence of heartworms.
Dogs and cats of any breed can be infected, although we tend to see it more in large male dogs. Since it takes at least 6 months from the time a mosquito injects microfilaria into a dog until these microfilaria become adult heartworms, puppies must be at least 6 months of age before adult heartworms are present. Most dogs are diagnosed at middle age.Many dogs do not have any symptoms until heart failure progresses. This emphasizes the need for yearly testing.
Many products are available to prevent heartworm (some of them also treat intestinal worms so they can be of great value). These products are inexpensive, easy to use, and effective. They should not be used routinely unless your dog has a yearly heartworm test to make sure it is negative.
Heartworm infestation can lead to heart failure. Treatment can be hard on a dog, so it is of utmost importance to plan on preventing the problem with the low cost and readily available medications used for prevention, as opposed to taking a chance and treating only if the problem occurs.
We have detailed information on Heartworm Disease on our web site at www.lbah.com
Follow the drop down menu to Heart Disease, and
click on the Heartworm links.