Heartworm disease or Dirofilariasis is a serious and potentially fatal disease for both cats and dogs.
This disease is caused by a blood-borne parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis, and is transmitted when an infected mosquito bites an animal.
Symptoms Of Heartworm In Dogs
Most heartworm positive dogs can show no signs of infection for several years. If left undiagnosed, the most obvious clinical signs are a soft, dry cough, shortness of breath, weakness, nervousness, listlessness, and loss of stamina. All of these signs are most noticeable following exercise, when some dogs may even faint or become disoriented.
Your veterinarian may notice abnormal lung and heart sounds when listening to the chest with a stethoscope. In advanced cases, congestive heart failure may be apparent and the abdomen and legs will swell from fluid accumulation. There may also be evidence of weight loss, poor condition, and anemia. Severely infected dogs may die suddenly during exercise or excitement
How To Prevent Heartworms
You can prevent your dog from getting heartworms by using a heartworm preventive. Preventatives will treat the microfilaria transferred by an infected mosquito for a little over a month, and it is recommended that pets receive monthly prevention all year round.
The preventatives come in oral, topical and injectable forms and often include intestinal parasite and flea control as well. Safe and affordable heartworm preventives can be given to pets ages eight weeks and older so that no pet should ever have to endure this dreaded disease.
Thanks to Dr. Jason Banaszak of VCA Animal Hospital for this guest post on Heartworm!