Those are the words we hear all too often from the veterinarian when we get dogs checked out for the first time. We know that this disease could easily be prevented, but it will cost us precious dollars and weeks of TLC before we can get that dog his new home.
What Exactly Are Heartworms?
Heartworms are in the same class of worms as roundworms and can infect both dogs and cats. An animal is infected with heartworm through the bite of a mosquito carrying heartworm larvae (microfilariae). The larvae grow and make their way to the heart of the infected animal, where they become adult worms, sometimes reaching a length of 14 inches. Adult heartworms in dogs can live up to 5-7 years and a severely infected dog can have up to several hundred heartworms in their hearts and vessels. The adult worms obstruct the heart and blood vessels leading from the heart to the lungs. If left untreated the dog can die from heart failure.