King William Veterinary Clinic

Heart Attack!

Posted by Lindsey Haile on Monday, February 28, 2011

While cupid armed with love, targets human hearts, mosquitoes armed with heartworm larvae aim at dog hearts.  With the number of mosquitoes in this area, dogs face a severe risk of being infected with deadly heartworms.  An infected mosquito bites the dog, injecting heartworm larvae under the skin.  The larvae mature under the skin and then travel to the heart and the arteries in the lungs.  Approximately 6-9 months after being deposited under the skin, the fertilized female worms begin to produce microfilaria (tiny immature worms) in the blood stream.  The adult worms are the heartbreakers, causing damage by physically obstructing blood vessels, heart chambers and valves.  Secondary scarring, clots, heart and liver failure all may lead to sudden death.  Dogs with heartworm disease vary from not having any symptoms, to having a cough, labored breathing, weight loss, exercise intolerance, episodes of collapse and abdominal swelling.  The severity of signs is related to the number of worms, how long the worms have been present, and the pet’s ability to handle disease.  Heartworms are diagnosed by simple blood tests and treatments are aimed at killing both the adult and the immature stages of the worms.  Fortunately heartworm disease is completely preventable!   By administering a preventative pill each month of your pet’s life, you can ensure your pet will never have to experience the staggering effects of heartworm disease.  Preventatives work by causing paralysis and death of the parasites before they can establish themselves and replicate.  Don’t overlook this critical aspect of heart health.  Show your love by protecting your dog’s heart with monthly preventatives! 


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