Heartworms in dogs: Is this silent killer lurking inside your dog?

Heartworms in dogs

Last year’s CAPC Heartworm Prevalence Map showed 4.3 million dogs were tested for heartworms.  Unfortunately, 48,000 (1 out of every 89) tested positive for heartworms.  Learn more about heartworms in dogs and help spread the word during Heartworm Awareness Month!

Heartworms in dogs has been detected in all 50 States.  Here in Oklahoma, I recommend heartworm prevention every 30 days all year around.  Heartworm disease is 15 times more expensive to treat than to prevent and it can be fatal!

The unfortunate thing about heartworms in dogs is that it is completely preventable and sadly more than half of clients leave their veterinary clinic without heartworm prevention. Heartworms can infect dogs, cats, ferrets and rarely humans.

Heartworms are transmitted from pet to pet from the bite of a mosquito. The infected mosquito deposits the larvae (baby heartworm) under the skin of its next victim. It takes the larvae about six months to mature into an adult worm and reach the heart. An adult heartworm is about 12 inches in length. These adults then start producing more baby heartworms that circulate in the blood stream waiting to catch the mosquito train and infect the next victim. Because heartworms in dogs can live five to seven years, each season can lead to an increase number of worms in the heart.

Heartworms in dogs is very often a silent killer, as many animals do not show clinical signs until it is too late. This is why yearly heartworm testing is so important. Common symptoms in dogs include coughing, exercise intolerance, decreased appetite, weight loss and, in severely infected dogs, congestive heart failure.

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Dr. Anna was born and raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. As a teenager, Dr. Anna found her beloved pet dead on the side of the road left to die without any help. That was the moment she decided to become a vet and vowed to help other people and their pets. After a few years of practicing in New Hampshire, Dr. Anna became homesick and decided to return to Guthrie to be with her parents and five other siblings. Family and friends are a major part of our lives which is why we treat our clients at Guthrie Pet Hospital as family.  Dr. Anna and her husband do not have children but are very proud pet parents and therefore, treat every four legged friend as part of the family. 

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