Heartworm Awareness

by | Apr 30, 2021 | Pet Services

April was Heartworm Awareness Month. But even though April has past that does not make Heartworm Disease any less important. Heartworm disease is usually thought of as a problem only in the South and on the East Coast. But Southern California has seen several outbreaks of heartworm in local areas in both our companion dogs as well as the coyote population. So, what is heartworm disease? Heartworms are a species of roundworm parasites that live in the arteries of your pet’s lungs and, in severe cases, in the right side of their heart chambers. The disease is spread by mosquitoes that become infected with microfilariae (immature larvae) while taking a blood meal from an infected dog. Within the mosquito, the microfilariae mature into the infective larval stage. When the mosquito then bites another animal, the larvae are deposited on the skin of the new host. For about two months the larvae migrate under the skin and through connective tissue to the animal’s venous blood stream and to the pulmonary arteries. It takes about six months for the infective larvae to mature into adult worms that begin producing offspring. Adult worms living in the pulmonary arteries and the heart can cause extensive damage to these organs as well as cause dysfunction of the liver and the kidneys. Infected dogs may exhibit clinical signs associated with lung and heart dysfunction including a cough, exercise intolerance and difficulty breathing, but in very acute or mild infections may not show any signs at all! While treatment is available and usually successful for dogs that are infected, prevention is much safer and by far more economical. There is a quick 10-minute blood test to test your pet for the presence of the disease. If the test shows a negative result, then your pet can be placed on a monthly preventative in either a chewable or topical form. Even with prevention, it is recommended that pets be tested for heartworm disease on an annual basis. More information can be found at the American Heartworm Society (www.heartwormsociety.org). Cinema Veterinary Centre is located at 23460 Cinema Drive, suite L in Valencia 91355, (661) 253-9300.



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