Mosquitoes are more than annoying to your dog -their bite can be deadly. This is because the potentially lethal, Heartworm Disease, is transmitted through mosquito bites. When a mosquito feeds on a heart- worm-infected dog, it takes in the immature form of the heartworm along with its blood meal. Then, it injects this immature form into the next dog it bites.
Heartworms are spaghetti-like parasites that live inside the heart of an infected dog. The worms can cause damage to your dog ’s heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Symptoms range from none (in early or light infec- tions),to cough, weight loss, decreased appetite, exercise intolerance, breathing difficulty collapse and death.
Unfortunately, all dogs are at risk since the condition can be found anywhere mosquitoes are found. In rare instances cats too can become ill, especially in areas with a high concentration of dog infection. Luckily, heartworms are easily diagnosed through a blood test.
Treatment of Heartworm Disease is often successful. However, there may be signifi cant risk to medical treatment and damage from the infection can be permanent. Prevention of the condition is the best method for keeping your dog healthy. It is easy and safe and can be accomplished in several ways. After a negative heartworm blood test to ensure your dog is not infected with heartworms, preventive medication is given at home on a daily or monthly basis, or at your veterinarian ’s office by means of an injection every 6 months.
Your veterinarian will help you keep your dog healthy and help prevent the possibility of “death by lethal injection ” due to heartworm disease.
Presented by Kathleen Doughert y, DVM Kenwood Animal Hospital.