Heartworm disease is a horrible but preventable disease. It is seen in virtually all of the United States and many parts of Canada. Heartworm is a parasite that lives in the heart and its surrounding blood vessels. The adult heartworms produce offspring called microfilariae, which circulate in the pet’s blood. When a mosquito “bites” an infected pet, it sucks out blood containing the microfilariae. After about two weeks in the mosquito, the microfilariae become infective larvae. This step is necessary for the transmission of heartworm. When the mosquito bites another pet, the infective larvae are transmitted. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, coughing, weight loss, being easily tired, or listlessness. In many cases pets do not show outward signs until advanced stages of the disease. An annual blood test is recommended to screen for heartworm. If found early this disease can be treated, although treatment can be costly.
Prevention of this potentially life threatening disease is easy. After having your pet tested to ensure that they are not infected, a medication is given once a month. Detroit Dover Animal Hospital recommends two different medications for the prevention of Heartworm. One medication is a liquid called Revolution (selamectin) that is applied topically to the back of your pet’s shoulder blades. The medicine absorbs into the pets blood stream then travels though out his or her body. The other medication is a flavored cheawble treat called Sentinel Spectrum (milbemycin oxime, lufenuron, and praziquante). All medications are safe and effective. We recommend that you give your pet heartworm preventative medication throughout the year.
Please visit the Companion Animal Parasite Council for a map of what parasites your pet may be in contact with. The Companion Animal Parasite Council is a non-profit, independent group of experts that includes veterinarians and veterinary parasitologists.
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