Heartworm Disease

Is your dog an outdoor lover or is he a couch potato and almost always inside? You would probably be surprised to hear that both types of dogs are at risk for heartworm disease.

Many people know that heartworm disease is exactly what it sounds like; a “worm” (aka a parasite) that infects the heart. What many people don’t know is that heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, and mosquitoes are everywhere! They are more prevalent by water sources (ponds, lakes,

marshes), but they can be anywhere. Mosquitoes have a tendency to find their way in our houses, which puts our indoor dogs at just as much risk as our outdoor adventurous dogs!

Heartworms are also known as Dirofilaria immitis. Young heartworms develop in the mosquito’s gut which are transmitted to dogs when they bite. It then takes six months for them to develop into adult heartworms which are found mainly in the pulmonary arteries and in the right side of the heart. If left untreated, heartworms cause severe heart disease. Signs of heartworm disease include frequent coughing and exercise intolerance. Signs of more advanced disease include profound weakness, anorexia, and fluid in the abdomen (ascites).

Every dog should be tested for heartworm disease annually. All it takes is three drops of blood and in eight minutes we will know if your dog is positive or negative for an adult heartworm infection. All dogs need to be tested yearly for heartworm disease and kept on a preventive year round. If your dog has not been on heartworm preventive consistently, retesting in 6 months may be required.

The great news about heartworm disease is that we can prevent it! At the Animal Hospital of Ludington we provide multiple different preventive products to fit your dog’s lifestyle. If you like giving chewables we offer Interceptor. The cool thing about Interceptor is it also treats intestinal parasites such as whipworm, tapeworm, roundworm, and hookworm. It is a chewable tablet that you need to give every 30 days all year round. If you prefer topicals, we offer a great product called Revolution. This product also needs to be applied every 30 days. Revolution also treats fleas, earmites, and sarcoptic mange. Last but not least, if you want to take the easy route we offer a product called Proheart. This is an injection to prevent heartworm disease and it lasts for 6 months.

Get your dog tested and started on heartworm preventive today! Call the Animal Hospital of Ludington at (231) 845-7719 to get scheduled. And remember to always keep your pet on a flea/tick preventive as well!!


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