Heartworm disease is a serious disease that poses a threat
to dogs in Canada and the USA. Heartworm is spread by mosquito's. A
mosquito that bites an infected dog will ingest the immature worms,
which develops over the next few weeks and is spread when the
mosquito bites the next dog which is not yet infected. The immature
worm migrates to the heart of the dog where they will mature and begin
reproducing. This process takes approximately 6 months.
The heartworm disease causes serious damage to the arteries of the
lung, heart, liver and kidneys of the dog. Most of the damage occurs
before a person sees signs of the disease in the dog. It is treatable but
the prospects for a complete recovery is reduced in advanced cases even
if you kill all the adult worms through treatment.
A dog should be tested for Heartworm every year at the yearly veterinary
exam. This can be done by providing a sample of your dog's blood. Xray's
can also be helpful in recognising adult heartworm.
Heartworm prevention is the answer to preventing
the disease. A preventative program starts in early Spring and continues
until November and involves giving your dog a pill once a month. See your
veterinarian for details.