Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease caused by a blood-borne parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis.
Dogs and cats get heartworm disease when the heartworm parasite enters their blood through the bite of a host mosquito.
In Texas, heartworm disease is a threat year round. In the summer, many dogs get infected thanks to the large number of mosquitos.
An estimated one million dogs test heartworm positive each year in the United States.
Heartworm Risks and Symptoms
Texas, with its heat and insect population, suffers from widespread year-round heartworm disease, unlike many colder states in the north. In fact, it’s one of only two states where we recommend year-round prevention (the other being Florida).
Heartworm diseases has 4 stages (all occurring after heartworms have already infected the dog):
- Stage 1: No symptoms or mild symptoms
- Stage 2: Mild symptoms such as tiredness after moderate activity
- Stage 3: Persistent cough, tiredness after activity, trouble breathing, etc
- Stage 4: At this point there are so many worms in the dog’s heart that something called ‘caval syndrome’ blocks blood flow. This results in death.
Not all dogs go through the last phase. Some will die from just the tissue damage inflicted by heartworms to the heart, lungs, liver and kidney.
Either way, heartworm disease is extremely deadly. While it does not have initial symptoms and takes a while to kill the dog, if left untreated it will result in the dog’s premature death.
To make matters worse, nearly 100% of dogs exposed to infective heartworm larvae become infected.
Summer poses extra danger for pets without preventative due to the increase of mosquitos (which spread heartworm disease).
Heartworm prevention is simple, effective, and affordable – far much more so than treatment. We offer both Iverheart*, an oral monthly pill, and Proheart 6*, a onetime injectable that lasts 6 months. We highly recommend protecting your pet with one of these affordably priced products that are available at all of our clinics across Dallas and Fort Worth.
Other good products include Trifexis, Revolution, Advantage Multi, and others.If you have any questions about which option is best for your pet, contact us! We’re more than happy to answer questions & provide information on the best preventative for your pet.
*Note: We always require a heartworm test for dogs over 7 months before prescribing prevention. This is because there is a chance (however small) that if your dog has heartworms and receives heartworm preventative, they could have a negative reaction.
Can puppies get heartworms?
Puppies can, which is why we provide heartworm preventative tablets with our puppy packages. It’s very important to get your puppies their vaccinations along with heartworm prevention and dewormers to start protection as soon as possible.
Do you provide heartworm tests? If so, how long does that take?
We provide heartworm tests on-site at any of our mobile vaccination clinics across Texas. They only take a few minutes to run.
How long does it take for heartworms to kill dogs?
It can take up to 7 years to kill a dog, depending on how active the dog is, how many heartworms they have, and their general condition. Usually, by the time the dog shows symptoms, the disease is fairly well advanced and extensive damage has already been done. You can find out more information about how to treat heartworm disease here.
Have more questions? Call us at 817-282-1000 or contact us here.