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Heartworms

Transmission

Heartworms are transmitted through mosquitos. If a mosquito bites an infected dog, they transfer those microflaria (baby heartworms) when they bite another dog. The baby heartworms then migrate in the blood to the heart. The worms multiply and grow - soon causing symptoms, making your pet very uncomfortable and damaging the heart.

(Heartworms can not survive in humans!)

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Canine heart with adult heartworms

Symptoms

Due to the reduced amount of blood that the heart is able to move, your dog will be lethargic, winded, and may develop a cough. All symptoms will be worse with increased temperatures and increased activity.

Testing

A small amount of blood will be drawn and tested to determine if heartworms are present. The test takes about 15 minutes. It is recommended bi-annually even if your pet is on prevention year round. The single most important reason goes beyond state compliance - the sooner we treat a positive pet, the less irreversible damage will have occurred to the heart.

Treatment

Heartworm treatment requires a couple nights of hospitalization during which the patient receives pain medications as well as injections to eliminate the worms.

Prevention

Prevention is generally in the form of a chewable treat and should be given year-round. Prevention can not be sold unless your pet has a current heartworm test. Prevention is not a 100% guarantee against the worms and the sooner we catch the presence of heartworms, the better chance your pet will continue to live a long, happy life after treatment.