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  • Writer's pictureellis co. animal hospital

What you need to know about heartworms

Everyone tells you that you need to keep your dog on heartworm prevention, but do you know why? A lot of people would like to believe that veterinarians are getting a kick back from you having to give your pet medication year-round. That is 100% false. The only thing we see is that your pet stays happy, healthy and heartworm free.

What is a heartworm?

A heartworm is an internal parasite that is transmitted by mosquitoes. A mosquito bites an infected dog taking its blood and immature heartworms with it. The immature worm molts into a larvae and travels to the mosquito’s mouth, then when the mosquito in turn bites your healthy dog, it exchanges the heartworm larvae into the skin where it molts again and heads for its nutrition source. As the immature worm grows into an adult it travels into the blood stream and organs. An adult heartworm can grow up to 16 inches long in length, that monstrosity traveling through your pet’s veins will eventually get stuck in the main mechanics of their blood stream which is the heart (hence the name heartworm). You can see several symptoms such as easily tiring during play, coughing, heart attack, illness, organ failure and death.

Prevention is KEY.

While we cannot completely stop your dog from getting bit by a mosquito, you can stop the life cycle of the heartworm. The preventatives are made so that it kills the immature stages of heartworm larvae before they become adults. Veterinarians tell you to keep on the preventative year-round because there is not a designated time when the mosquitoes disappear and reappear. If you do decide to take your pet off of the prevention during the winter months it is strongly suggested that you re-test before putting your pet back on the preventative because it will not kill the adult heartworms.

Heartworm Facts

  • Heartworms can be found in all 50 states in the US. Some areas are much more prominent than others, such as areas with large bodies of swampy or stagnant water.

  • Most dogs will not show any signs of heartworm disease until they are severely infected.

  • The cost of treatment for heartworm disease is usually twice or three times more expensive than the preventative.

  • Heartworms left untreated can kill your pet.

  • Heartworms are not the same type of worms that you see or hear about in your pet’s feces!

  • Most if not all preventatives come with…REBATES! Money back for keeping your pet healthy

  • Most companies have a warranty for the prevention if bought through the vet clinic. If your pet develops heartworm disease while on their product, they will pay for the treatment cost! All you need is the proof of purchase for the preventative every 6 months.


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