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Dog Heartworm Test

Heartworm is a preventable, but potentially fatal disease caused by parasitic worms infecting the arteries of the lungs, heart, and surrounding blood vessels of dogs, and other mammal species.

What are the symptoms of heartworms in a dog?

Symptoms of a heartworm infection may include coughing, shortness of breath, weakness, and overall dullness.

How do dogs get heartworm?

All it takes is one simple bite from an infected mosquito carrying microfilaria (baby worms), to induce a full-blown heartworm infection. These worms will mature into an adult worm in the heart vessels, where they will reproduce, blocking the chambers of the heart.

What is the treatment for heartworm?

Currently, the treatment for heartworm is a lengthy process that can last for several months. Once the dog is diagnosed with the aid of heartworm testing, a course of antibiotics and steroids is started. Several weeks later, a drug called Immiticide, is given intramuscularly with the animal under sedation. The animal will also start a course of heartworm prevention medication. This intramuscular injection is then repeated a month later, then the very next day. The animal will continue on steroids and will have to be at complete rest for the remainder of the treatment. One month after the final injection, another blood sample is collected and submitted for heartworm testing.

Why is recovery and heartworm treatment challenging?

Heartworm treatment is a challenge because not only is the recovery difficult for the animal, but the cost is significant. During the treatment period, there is potential for dying worms to clog arteries and vessels of the heart fatally. Because of this, animals undergoing treatment are usually limited to strict cage rest with zero exercise.

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