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Heartworm disease (dirofilariasis) is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs. It is caused by a worm called Dirofilaria immitis. PREVENTION IS KEY....It is always less costly and safer to prevent heartworms than to treat them and the damage they cause !!! Yearly testing & monthly preventative is the cornerstone of a heartworm-free pet.
The disease is not spread directly from dog to dog. An intermediate host, the mosquito, is required for transmission. Spread of the disease therefore coincides with the mosquito season. As many as 30 species of mosquitoes can transmit heartworms. The female mosquito bites the infected dog and ingests the microfilariae (juvenile forms of the worm) during a blood meal. The microfilariae develop further for 10 to 30 days in the mosquito and then enter the mouth parts of the mosquito. The microfilariae are now called infective larvae because at this stage of development, they will grow to adulthood when they enter a dog.
The most obvious signs are: a soft, dry, chronic cough, shortness of breath, weakness, nervousness, listlessness, and loss of stamina. All of these signs are most noticeable following exercise, when some dogs may even faint. Listening to the chest with a stethoscope will often reveal abnormal lung and heart sounds. In advanced cases, congestive heart failure may be apparent and the abdomen and legs will swell from fluid accumulation. There may also be evidence of weight loss, poor condition, and anemia. Severely infected dogs may die suddenly during exercise or excitement.
Blood test for microfilariae: A blood sample is examined under the microscope for the presence of microfilariae. If microfilariae are seen, the test is positive. The number of microfilariae seen gives us a general indication of the severity of the infection.
American Heartworm Society at http://www.heartwormsociety.org/ Check out Heartgard Plus the most recommend prevention for heartworm disease http://www.heartgard.com/Pages/index.asp
Check out Heartgard Plus the most recommend prevention for heartworm disease http://www.heartgard.com/Pages/index.aspRevolution, parasite control products for dogs and cats at http://www.revolutionpet.com/default.html