Heartworm Disease- The Basics

What is heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease, or Dirofilaria Immitis, is a parasitic disease that can result in lung, heart failure, other organ disease and death. Each worm can grow up to 12 inches long, and up to 250 of them have been known to tangle their way throughout the heart vessels and lungs.

Where does heartworm disease come from?

A single bite from a mosquito can infect your dog with heartworm disease. You dog is the definitive host, meaning the worms can reproduce and live put their life using the pulmonary arteries in the heart as a home.

Is there a cure for heartworm disease?

Treatment for heartworm disease is available however it can be costly (into thousands of dollars) and traumatic. The treatment is a arsenic based drug, used to kill the worms in the vessels of the heart and lungs. Unfortunately, this treatment has associated risks including cardiovascular damage from dying worms. For this reason, the pet will have  to stay in the hospital for observation.

What can you do to protect your pet?

Unless your pets are in the later stages of the disease, often they show no clinical signs. Getting you pet heartworm tested is easy. We recommend a wellness package for all pets.  It as simple as taking a small blood sample. Once tested, your pet can be started on heartworm prevention. At Fairgrounds Animal Hospital, we recommend Sentinel Spectrum for dogs. This treat like chewable tablet is given once monthly. In addition, this product also protects against other parasitic creatures that aim to make your pet it’s home including taperworms, whipworms, hookworms and fleas.