Heartworm disease is a serious illness that can be fatal to your pet.
Heartworm larvae are transmitted by infected mosquitoes that bite and deposit them on the pet's skin. The larvae migrate through the skin and into the bloodstream. Once there, they make their way to the heart and pulmonary arteries, where they continue to grow and breed. Adult worms can grow to be 12 inches long, restricting blood flow between the heart and lungs, and other major vessels leading to the liver and kidneys.
By the time clinical signs of heartworm disease appear, the disease can already be at its advanced stages. Treatment can be stressful to a critically ill pet. Some do not even survive treatment. Prevention is the key. There are several heartworm preventatives to choose from. You can choose from a topical application, injection or a chewy treat or pill to give orally. Some preventatives also take care of intestinal parasites.
All preventatives are once a month, with exception to the injection, which lasts 6 months. All preventatives should be given as year round treatments. Ask your veterinarian if a heartworm test is needed before administering the preventative. Once you have started the preventative, it is recommended that a heartworm test be repeated annually.