Canine heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease that affects dogs. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis, which is transmitted by mosquitoes.
When a mosquito bites an infected dog, it picks up microfilariae (immature heartworms) from the dog’s bloodstream. The microfilariae then develop into infective larvae inside the mosquito, which can be transmitted to another dog when the mosquito bites it.
Once inside a dog’s body, the heartworm larvae migrate to the heart and lungs, where they grow into adult worms. These worms can cause damage to the heart and lungs, leading to coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, and in severe cases, heart failure.
Prevention of heartworm disease is key, as treatment can be difficult and expensive. Monthly heartworm preventatives are available in the form of oral medications, topical treatments, and injections. These preventatives work by killing the heartworm larvae before they can develop into adult worms.
If a dog is diagnosed with heartworm disease, treatment typically involves a series of injections that kill the adult worms. This treatment can be expensive and can also be risky, as the dying worms can cause blockages in the lungs or blood vessels.
It is important to have dogs tested for heartworm disease annually, even if they are on a preventative. Early detection and treatment can increase the chances of a successful outcome.
Overall, canine heartworm disease is a serious and potentially life-threatening disease that can be prevented with monthly preventatives and annual testing.