Useful Information
The Importance of Monthly Heartworm Treatment For Your Dog
In warmer climates, like Texas, it is imperative that dog owners give their dog monthly heartworm preventatives and that the dog is tested, annually, for heartworms.
Cause
Heartworm disease can be a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs. Heartworm disease is caused by a worm found mainly in the heart and large adjacent vessels of infected dogs. The female worm is 5 to14 inches long and one-eighth inch wide. The male is about half the size of a female heartworm. One heartworm positive dog may have as many as 300 worms.
Occurrence and Transmission
Heartworm infection in dogs occurs all over North America, particularly where mosquitoes are prevelent. It cannot spread directly from dog to dog, but rather a mosquito, which serves as the intermediate host for the heartworm, must transmit it. The spread of the infection, therefore, coincides with the mosquito season. In Texas, it is imperative that you keep your dog on heartworm preventative year round.
Effects
Heartworms cause disease by clogging the heart and the major blood vessels leading to the lungs, which reduces the blood supply to this and other organs of the body, particularly the lungs, liver, and kidneys, and leads to malfunction. Left untreated, heartworm disease is deadly.
Diagnosis
A diagnosis of heartworm disease is made by a simple blood test by your veterinarian.
Prevention
To prevent heartworm disease from occurring, your dog must be given a chewable tablet, available through your veterinarian, once a month beginning at 6 months of age. The tablet will prevent any worm from forming. Once your dog has been tested for heartworm disease and started on the preventative, they should be tested a second time six months later. Recently heartworm preventative injections have become available and need only be given once every six months. Ask your veterinarian which prevention method is best for your dog.
Treatment
A dog that tests positive must be started on a heartworm treatment immediately. Left untreated, heartworm disease can be potentially fatal. The majority of heartworm positive dogs recover completely and lead normal lives.

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