True or False: Only dogs that “come up from the south” have heartworm disease. That statement is FALSE!
True or False: Heartworm medication is expensive. That statement is FALSE! For a 26-50 pound dog, one year of preventative medication costs approximately $125 to $135. For the same size dog, the treatment for heartworm disease is over $1300!
True or False: Treatment for heartworm disease is easy on a pet. That statement is FALSE! Heartworm treatment is done in stages over 120 days with various medications, injections, preventatives, bloodwork and testing. There is at least one overnight hospital stay and STRICT rest for the pet for the duration of the treatment period.
Recently, at a routine wellness appointment, a dog was found to be heartworm positive. The dog has lived in this community its entire life. The dog has never been on heartworm preventatives.
What are heartworms? According to the American Heartworm Society, they are foot-long worms that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. A pet may not show symptoms for several years after infection.
How does a pet get heartworm? According to the American Heartworm Society, mosquitoes plays an essential role in the heartworm life cycle. Adult female heartworms living in an infected animal produce microscopic baby worms called microfilaria that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites and takes blood from an infected animal, it picks up these baby worms, which mature into “infective stage” larvae over a period of 10 to 14 days. Then, when the infected mosquito bites another dog, cat, or susceptible wild animal, the infective larvae are deposited onto the surface of the animal’s skin and enter the new host through the mosquito’s bite wound. Once inside a new host, it takes approximately 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. Once mature, heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats. Because of the longevity of these worms, each mosquito season can lead to an increasing number of worms in an infected pet.
Ways to protect your pet – At My Pet’s Veterinary Center, we recommend a heartworm test, simple blood test costing less than $50, should be done annually to ensure your pet does not have heartworm disease. We recommend year round preventative medications. Options include monthly oral medication, monthly topical medications and twice a year injections. The staff at MPVC are available to answer any questions you have and will discuss all available options with you.
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To answer the question posed on Facebook, the movement in the video was the microfilaria – the early stage larva of heartworm!