Heartworm Disease Prevention & Treatment in Dogs

If a mosquito becomes infected by heartworm then bites your dog, the parasite can be transmitted and live in your dog's lungs, heart and blood vessels. Our vets in Simi Valley explain how heartworm in dogs is prevented and treated. 

Heartworm in Dogs

The blood-borne parasite Dirofilaria immitis is responsible for causing canine heartworm disease, which can be transmitted to dogs worldwide by over 30 different species of mosquitoes.

When an infected mosquito bites your pet, it allows the worms to grow into adults, reproduce, and thrive in your pet's heart. Organ damage, heart failure, and severe lung disease can result from the condition.

What are signs of heartworm in dogs?

Dogs may show minimal or no symptoms in the early stages of heartworm. However, as the condition worsens, they may experience weight loss, fatigue even after moderate activity, breathing difficulties, decreased appetite, and a mild but persistent cough.

Your dog's belly may become swollen due to excess fluid in the abdomen when heartworm disease reaches its advanced stages. Heart failure can also affect pets.

How can my vet detect heartworm disease in my dog?

By conducting blood tests, your vet can detect the proteins that heartworm releases into the bloodstream. You can detect the earliest heartworm proteins about 5 months after your pet becomes infected.

We strongly advise getting your dog tested for heartworm on a yearly basis. Make sure to give your pup annual heartworm preventive treatments. Preventing heartworm disease is highly emphasized by our vets in Simi Valley. It is crucial to take proactive measures to protect your dog rather than waiting to treat the disease if they become infected.

What treatment options are there for heartworm?

Treatment for heartworm disease can have serious complications for your pet's health and may be toxic for your pooch. However, there are available options. Consulting with your vet will assist you in determining the most suitable options for your pet.

The veterinarian administers an arsenic-containing drug called melarsomine dihydrochloride by injecting it into the pet's back muscles. This treatment effectively targets and eliminates heartworms. Pets can benefit from this FDA-approved drug, as it effectively eliminates adult heartworms. You can also apply FDA-approved topical solutions to your pet's skin to eliminate parasites in their bloodstream.

Treating heartworm disease for your pet can be quite costly due to the need for multiple visits to the veterinarian, bloodwork, X-Rays, hospitalization, and a series of injections.

Are there heartworm prevention medications?

Heartworm prevention medications are available from your vet. Annual blood tests to check for heartworm is recommended, even if your dog is already on preventive heartworm medication.

Heartworm prevention is safer, easier, and much more affordable than treating the disease. The prevention treatment may also protect your pet against other parasites such as roundworms, hookworms and whipworms.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Want to find out more about preventing and treating heartworm in dogs? Contact Park Animal Hospital to book an appointment.