Heartworm infestations can be deadly, but if you follow a couple easy steps it’s totally preventable. Heartworm is a parasite that lives in the heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels. Heartworm is passed from a mosquito taking a blood meal on an affected animal, picking up the microfilaria (baby worms). The microfilaria then mature in the mosquito. Once matured, the mosquito then takes another blood meal on an unaffected animal; leaving the microfilaria behind, infecting the next animal.
While heartworms can affect any mammal, the one I’m going to focus on is the canine. The few things you can do to make sure your canine friend stays heartworm free is get a blood test i.e. 4DX+, annually. Not only does this test screen for heartworm, it also screens for Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasma. On top of that, you want to keep your dog on heartworm prevention year round. There are a couple different types, but most are a flavored tablet your dog will take once a month. Most canines will take it as a treat. There is a treatment for dogs that come up positive, but it lasts several months and can be expensive. Some signs and symptoms to look for are coughing, loss of appetite, intolerance to exercise, and possible weight loss. You also run the risk of the heart or lungs being damaged permanently, so prevention is the best option. So schedule your heart worm test today!