Spring is ramping up and so are the mosquitoes here in Youngsville. Mosquitoes are very important when it comes to your dogs or cats health as they are the bug that transmit heartworm disease. This blog post will be dedicated to heartworm disease in your dog, and a future blog will be dedicated to feline heartworm disease.

Let us simplify the life cycle of Heartworms for everyone to have a basic understanding. A mosquito carrying the larvae of Heartworms will buzz around and then bite a dog. This larvae will go into your dog’s bloodstream, continue to mature, and then start growing as an adult worm in the dog’s heart. If these adult worms continue to grow, it will begin to cause obstructions in the heart leading to heart failure and eventual death if not treated properly. A simple blood test can detect heartworm disease when there are adult Heartworms growing and reproducing in the heart. Heartwood Animal Hospital tends to find one to two positive tests per month in dogs, and treatment is always warranted. Treatment involves hospitalization, chest radiographs to evaluate the heart, and multiple injections of an “Immiticide,” which is the only medication proven to effectively kill and adult Heartworm. There is always a risk to treatment because when all of the Heartworms begin to die, they can cause an embolism in the pulmonary artery or cause anaphylaxis shock. Both of these are life threatening conditions, which is why hospitalization is required. The other real issue with treatment is the cost of medications, with the average heartworm treatment usually costing over 1,000 dollars when it is all said and done.

So now for the good news!

I can guarantee that your dog will never test positive for Heartworm disease by following one simple step: Give a monthly preventative every month for all 12 months of the year. The preventative, whether it is Heartgard Plus or Interceptor Plus, works by killing the larvae before they have a chance to start growing as adults in the heart. Giving this medication every month will kill any Heartworm larvae in your dog before they can reach the heart and start developing as an adult worm. It is nearly impossible to prevent mosquitoes from biting your pet, but it is absolutely POSSIBLE to prevent Heartworm disease through monthly preventative. Both Heartgard Plus and Interceptor Plus are flavored medications that most dogs enjoy as a treat. Prevention is also a lot cheaper than treatment. The decision is an easy one. Stay compliant with your heartworm medication and your dog will be forever grateful. Have trouble remembering to give this every month? Download the Heartwood Animal Hospital App for free on your smartphone and you will be reminded at the first of every month to give the prevention!