How Do Dogs Get Heartworms?
Regardless of several common myths to the contrary, the only way a dog can become infested with is if they are bitten by a mosquito infected with Dirofilaria Immitis. Dirofilaria is a parasite and can cause severe lung disease and heart failure. It can also damage other organs in the body.
Mosquitos infected with the parasite are not limited to a specific region. They exist throughout the U.S. and are constantly showing up in new locations as high winds can blow them great distances. So regardless of the climate, you should be aware of the potential for heartworms.
The most important factor in the treatment of heartworms is an early recognition of the symptoms related to the condition. Here are several behaviors that may indicate that your dog has heartworms:
- a mild, persistent cough
- reluctance to exercise
- fatigue after moderate activity
- decreased appetite
- weight loss
Some dogs infected at an early age may not show any of these signs, but still have heartworms. If you suspect that your dog might be infected, please take your dog to get a blood test as soon as possible. The worms may not show up on a blood test until as many as seven months after the enfection has started, so you should get your dog tested twice annually for early detection.
As with most health related issues, preventative thinking is the best thing you can do for your pooch. Administer heartworm medication regularly and in accordance with the directions and your veterinarian's suggestions. This will greatly decrease the likelihood of your pet contracting the disease.