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Have a Heart, Check Pets for Heartworm

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By Alan Rubenstein, DVM

Heartworm disease is common in this area due to the presence of the tree hole mosquito that thrives here, but not in the nearby San Joaquin Valley. For this reason if your dog is not receiving the products which will prevent heartworm, you can be fairly sure your dog will come down with this disease.

Heartworm lives in the blood of a dog´s heart and adjacent blood vessels. The adult heartworms living in the heart produce offspring, called microfilariae, which circulate in the infected animal´s blood. When a mosquito “bites” an infected pet which already has heartworm, it sucks out blood containing the microfilariae. After about two weeks in the mosquito, the microfilariae become infective larvae. This step is necessary for the transmission of heartworm. When the mosquito bites another pet, the infective larvae are transmitted.

The treatment in the past has been expensive and potentially toxic. The Heartworm Society, which has studied this disease exclusively, has found that if you put your dog on the monthly preventative for 18 months consecutively you can safely eliminate this disease and prevent new infections.

Reprinted with permission from The Sierra Mountain Times.Com