Heartworm disease in dogs:
How do dogs get heartworms?
The heartworm life cycle is very complex. In a nutshell, a mosquito has to bite, or take a blood meal from a heartworm positive dog and ingest the microfilaria (juvenile heartworms). That same mosquito can land on your dog and inject the microfilaria into your dog’s blood stream. If your dog is not on heartworm prevention these juvenile heartworms can slowly mature into adult heartworms over a 6 month period and make their way into your dog’s heart. If your dog has adult heartworms living in their heart, this can cause several health issues, including death.
At what age can I have my dog tested for heartworms?
Good question! They can be tested for heartworm disease if they are older than 6 months of age. The reason they cannot be tested sooner is due to the amount of time it takes for juvenile heartworms to mature to adult heartworms. If the heartworms have not matured to the adult stage, they will not test positive for them and result in inaccurate test results.
Why should I have my dog tested?
Your dog should be tested for heartworms yearly to ensure he is healthy and that the preventative is working correctly. If your dog is needing more prevention, it is required that your dog has an updated, negative heartworm test within the last year.
Can my other dog get heartworms directly from other heartworm positive dogs?
Not exactly. Heartworms are spread to dogs through a vector, which is the mosquito. The mosquito has to take a blood meal from a heartworm positive dog and ingest juvenile heartworms. The mosquito then has to inject those juvenile heartworms into a heartworm negative dog that is not on prevention. This is how they originally become infected.
What do I need to do to prevent further heartworm infections?
PREVENTION is the key. At a glance, heartworm testing and prevention may seem pricy, but in the long run it will save you a large amount of money as well as your pet’s life. Heartworm prevention works by killing what your pet has been infected with in the last 30 days, so it is important that you do not miss a dose. Heartworm prevention is highly recommended year round and as a lifelong medication.
Is there a treatment for heartworm disease?
Fortunately there is treatment for heartworm disease but unfortunately it is very costly and can span over several months. If your dog is heartworm positive, treatment is highly recommended. Treatment can cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars whereas monthly heartworm prevention can cost anywhere from $5-10 a month to keep your dog healthy and free of heartworms. If your dog needs heartworm treatment, give us a call, we would be happy to give you an estimate 979-217-1694.
Where can I find more information about heartworm disease?
The most reputable source to find information about heartworm disease, prevention and treatment is https://www.heartwormsociety.
How much is a heartworm test?
Our on-site heartworm tests are $15.