What is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease (dirofilariasis) is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs. It is caused by a worm called Dirofilaria immitis. Heartworms are found in the heart and large adjacent vessels of infected dogs. The female worm is 6 to 14 inches (2.3 to 5.5 cm) long and 1/8 inch (5 mm) wide; the male is about half the size of the female. One dog may have as many as 300 worms.
answer Heartworm disease is one of the major health problems of dogs in the United States and throughout the temperate and tropical areas of the world. As well as being found in dogs and other species, it is now being found in cats in ever increasing numbers. The disease develops when a pet becomes infected with parasites called Dirofilaria immitis that are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Dogs may be infected by a few or up to several hundred heartworms. Cats are similarly infected although usually by only a few worms. Heartworm infection often leads to severe lung disease and heart failure and can damage other organs in the body as well.
Heartworm disease is a preventable but serious and potentially fatal parasitic disease that mostly affects dogs and cats. The heart and lungs are the major organs affected by heartworms in dogs. Adult heartworms can be up to 14 inches long, and live in the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries, which connect the heart to the lungs. Blockage and injury caused by heartworms can lead to heart failure and can also damage other organs, such as the liver and kidneys. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. Adult female heartworms release their young (microfilariae) into the bloodstream of infected animals. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it takes up blood containing these microfilariae. When the mosquito bites another animal the infective larvae are passed on to the second animal through the wound. Infective larvae migrate through the tissues of the body for 2 to 3 months, and then enter the heart and pulmonary arteries, where they reach adult size in another 3 month
Heartworm disease is transmitted to dogs and cats via mosquitoes. The worm eventually directly invades the heart and is fatal if it goes undiagnosed and untreated. We offer various products to prevent heartworms including Heartgard (by subscription to VetCentric), Interceptor, Sentinel, and Revolution. It is recommended and required to have a negative blood test result before the dog can be started on the preventative. Cats can be administered Heartgard without a blood test. Interceptor can also be administered to cats, although this manufacturer recommends testing prior to administration of the product.
Heartworm disease (also called dirofilariasis) is a preventable, but serious and potentially fatal, parasitic disease that primarily affects dogs and cats. The heart and lungs are the major organs affected by heartworms in dogs. Adult heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) which can be up to 14 inches long, live in the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries, which connect the heart to the lungs. Blockage and injury caused by heartworms may lead to heart failure and may damage other organs, such as the liver and kidneys. A dog may harbor several hundred heartworms, but in most cases the number is much lower. Cats usually have smaller and fewer heartworms than dogs, and often do not exhibit clinical signs until the disease is considerably advanced. Occasionally, heartworms are found in other animals such as foxes, wolves and ferrets. Heartworms can also lodge in the lungs of people and form nodules, but their presence has not been associated with clinical disease.