Heartworm Harms Dogs, But We Can Help

Heartworm disease is a serious condition that frequently afflicts dogs, and unfortunately, it can be fatal in a worst-case scenario. Coast to Coast Cardiology has included some strategies for management, prevention, and treatment in the blog below, and we hope it helps your dog stay happy and heart healthy for years to come.

Causes and Symptoms

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. It’s transmitted through mosquitoes that acquire larvae from an infected animal, passing them to your pup when they bite.

  • Dogs with heartworm disease may be completely asymptomatic, meaning they show no signs of infection.
  • They may have an occasional cough, increased respiratory rate, decreased appetite, lethargy, or fever.
  • Dogs with severe infections might have pale mucous membranes, weakness, or difficulty breathing.

Diagnosing the Disease

There are two types of tests available: an antigen test and a microfilaria test.

  • The antigen test is the most commonly used and most sensitive test for screening. It can detect adult female heartworms, but it cannot detect immature heartworms.
  • The microfilaria test can detect immature heartworms, but it is less sensitive overall.

Common Complications

If left untreated, heartworm disease can:

  1. Harm to the heart musclevalves, and blood vessels, which might result in heart failure.
  2. Harm to the lungs, resulting in difficulty breathing or pneumonia.
  3. Damage to the liver or kidneys can lead to organ failure.

Prevention Strategies

The best way to protect against heartworm disease is avoiding infection in the first place:

  • There are many safe and effective heartworm preventive medications available, most of which are taken monthly. Your veterinarian can help you choose the right one.
  • Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, so keep your dog indoors during these times and use mosquito repellent when you are outdoors together.

If you can’t prevent heartworm, you still have options. At Coast to Coast Cardiology, we can:

  1. Perform diagnostic examinations, including echocardiography, radiography, or blood tests, to assess the severity of the infection and determine the best course of treatment.
  2. Provide targeted interventions, including medication, minimally invasive surgery, or a combination of both.
  3. Be available to answer your questions, address concerns, and advise on at-home management as needed.

If you have any concerns about the cardiovascular health of your pet, the best thing you can do is come see us! At Coast to Coast Cardiology, we have ten different locations, but we deliver on one goal no matter what: treating the patient, not just the signs. To make an appointment, contact us online or call 844-582-3827 today.