Heartworm in dogs is easily prevented, but difficult and costly to treat. Heartworm is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. All it takes is just one bite from mosquito infected with heartworm larvae. It cannot be passed on from dog to dog. There is also no way to detect if a mosquito is infected and that is why prevention is important.
It takes around seven months after a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, for the larvae to mature in adult heartworms. From there, they make themselves at home lodging into the heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels and there they will continue to reproduce.
Initially, there are no symptoms. But as the heartworms multiply in the heart and lungs, most dogs will show the symptom of coughing. They will begin to get winded easier and faster. In severe cases, abnormal lung sounds are detected, along with passing out from loss of blood to the brain. If untreated, most dogs will die from heartworm.
Treatment consists of two or three rounds of injections of Immitiicide. Immiticide is an arsenic-based medication. These injections will kill the adult heartworms. The safest and most effective way in treating heartworm is an extensive work-up, which would include X-rays and lab work to see just how severe the infection is. Also, it should be mentioned that after treatment, it is absolutely vital that the dog treated remain quiet for several months. This is because the worms will die and as that happens, they break up into small pieces and can cause a pulmonary blockage and that could lead to death.
But, the good news is that prevention is easy and very cost effective! There are monthly chewable tablets you can give. Call us at (207) 657-3393 for more information!