What Is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease is a serious condition that affects pets in the U.S. and other parts of the globe. It’s caused by worms, which measure up to a foot long, living in the lungs, heart or blood vessels of infected dogs and cats. They can cause heart failure, lung disease and damage to different organs in the body. Heartworms live in various mammals such as coyotes, foxes, wolves and sea lions, but heartworm disease primarily affects dogs and cats.
What Makes Puppies Susceptible To Heartworm Disease?
Puppies are little dogs, and dogs are natural hosts for heartworms. It’s important to know how dogs get heartworm disease so you can take steps to prevent it.
These worms are transferred from one carrier to another through mosquito bites. The immature heartworm, or microfilariae, may live inside the mosquito for several days. If an infected mosquito bites another dog, it can transfer the heartworm larva into it.
The immature heartworms that live inside the dog will grow into sexually mature adults. Then, they mate and keep reproducing inside the dog. If they’re not treated promptly, their numbers will keep increasing. Dogs can serve as heartworm hosts for up to seven years.
Symptoms Of Heartworm Disease In Puppies
At the initial stages of this disease, most dogs or puppies don’t display any symptoms. But if the worms multiply, symptoms are likely to develop. It’s easier to see the signs of the disease in dogs that are active or heavily infected.
Early symptoms of heartworm disease include:
- Reduced appetite
- Weight loss
- Reluctance to exercise
- Persistent cough
- Fatigue after a little activity
As the disease gets worse, pets may also develop a swollen belly due to a collection of fluid in the abdomen, and heart failure may occur. When heartworms block blood flow within the heart, only prompt surgical removal can help the dog survive.
How Vets Test For Heartworm Disease
Detecting this disease early increases the chances of survival. But because there are few early warning signs, taking your puppy or dog in for veterinary testing is essential.
During the test, the vet will take a small sample of your pet’s blood to test for the presence of any heartworm proteins. This test may be conducted in a clinic with a lab or sent to a diagnostic laboratory. If the test returns a positive result, further tests may be required to know the extent of the disease. You should test your dogs annually for heartworm infection during routine vet visits for preventive care.
How To Prevent Heartworm Disease In Puppies
Use a heartworm preventive to stop your dogs from contracting heartworms. Heartworm preventives are safe and affordable, meaning it’s easy to make sure your pup doesn’t have to endure this terrible disease. Consult your vet to receive a prescription for an effective heartworm preventive program.
Contact University Animal Clinic For Heartworm Treatment
To get more information about heartworm disease in pets, please contact University Animal Clinic by calling (941) 253-5218. You can also bring your dogs and cats to our AAHA-accredited vet facility for heartworm testing if you reside in Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota, Bradenton or the surrounding areas.