It’s National Heartworm Awareness Month: Is Your Pet Protected?

Companion Animal Parasite Control (CAPC) Recommends the following:

  • Annual testing of all dogs for both antigen and microfilariae of heartworm.
  • Protect all dogs from heartworm infection by using preventives year round.
  • Treat infected dogs with labeled adulticides and microfilaricides (if microfilariae are present) as soon after diagnosis as medically practical.

 

Heartworm in Our Area

Most dogs in the Northeast come here with heartworm infection from the southern states, as part of the growing number of rescue group adoptions. We usually diagnose dogs on their yearly annual wellness exam or sometimes during their first exam from the rescue. Dogs won’t test positive until they have been infected for 6 months. This means some rescue dogs will have a negative test from the rescue, but then test positive months later. That’s why it is very important to get your rescue dog tested 6 months after you get them.

 

Heartworm Disease: How it Affects Your Dog

Once adult heartworms develop, they cause damage to the lining of some of the main vessels in the heart. This leads to inflammation and even blood clotting at the site, eventually causing breakdown of the vessels and loss of optimal blood oxygenation.

Undiagnosed heartworm disease also causes right heart enlargement and right heart failure. Clinical signs include cough, dyspnea, weight loss, ascites, jugular venous distension, exercise intolerance, and arrhythmias.

Caval syndrome (CS) occurs in a small number of cases, and is usually associated with large numbers of adults in the pulmonary arteries.

This is a situation where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Treating a dog with heartworm is devastating. Prevent heartworm in your dog with vet testing and preventive care.

Heartworm cycle in dogs.