You don’t want your pup to get bit by an infected mosquito, nor do you want them to carry parasites for the rest of their life. Fortunately, veterinarians can detect signs of heartworm disease early on. However, it’s important to be informed so that you know when to take your dog to the doctors.
The article will cover everything you need to know about heartworm infection in dogs and treating this condition. You’ll learn about what signs to look for, heartworm testing, and how to prevent this condition in your dog.
How Can My Dog Get Heartworms?
Before going into what heartworm disease looks like in dogs, we’ll dive into how your pup can get the condition.
The scientific name for this disease is dirofilariasis, the infected mosquito’s name from which the illness originates. The bugs pick up heartworm larvae from canid animals (i.e., dogs, foxes, wolves) and spread them to new hosts.
The parasites live on the mouth of the mosquitos and go from one animal to the next. Within 10 to 14 days, the larvae reach an infectious stage. When the mosquito bites your puppy’s skin, the young larvae enter the blood vessels. These parasites take about six months to become adult heartworms.
These worms are commonly found throughout the continental United States and in various places around the world. Wherever mosquitos could potentially grow, your dog is at risk of contracting the disease. Fortunately, heartworm disease is not contagious. If an animal has been infected, the only way they can spread the condition is if a mosquito eats their blood and then bites another dog.
In infected dogs, the lifespan of adult heartworms is 5 to 7 years. Unfortunately, if you don’t treat your dog for this disease quickly, they could get reinfected the next year. But, how can you spot the signs of the parasites in your animal?
What Are The Symptoms of Heartworm in Dogs?
You’ll only notice symptoms of heartworm disease if you pay close attention to any changes in your infected dog’s behavior. In most cases, they won’t show heartworm disease symptoms until the later stages of the illness.
The worms grow and develop in the lungs, heart, and surrounding blood vessels. Among other things, you’ll see: