Did you know a mature heartworm can grow to be a foot long and live up to seven years in your dog's body? A dog with severe heartworm disease can have as many as 250 heartworms clogging its heart, lungs and arteries.
At the same time, it can take several years for a dog to show clinical signs of heartworm infection -- coughing, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, fatigue, especially after exercise -- which makes prevention all the more important. It is far easier to protect your dog from getting heartworm in the first place than it is to treat an advanced infestation, which can be fatal if ignored.
Heartworm is transmitted only by mosquito bites, not directly from dog to dog. Infections have been reported in all 50 states. At PAWS, we recommend using a monthly heartworm preventative medicine year-round. It's easy to remember if you give it to your dog on the first of each month. We suggest either:
Sentinel: Given once per month by mouth. Prevents heartworm, roundworm, hookworm and whipworm development. Does not kill fleas.
Iverhart Plus: Given once per month by mouth. Prevents heartworm and kills roundworms and hookworms. Does not kill fleas.
Your dog's heart, and yours, will be much happier if any worming into it is of a figurative -- not literal -- variety. So, stock up on your heartworm medicine and mark your calendar to give it to your dog on the first of each month. Your dog will thank you, from the bottom of their heart!
If you'd like to learn more about heartworm in dogs, this article is a good place to start.