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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

Important Notice About Heartworm Prevention and Treatment

Heartworm prevention for your dog is important—something we don’t want to forget as we are engaged in the fun of summer with our pets. Dogs contract heartworm, which is, in reality, a parasitic round worm, through mosquito bites. The end of July is in the midst of the peak season for mosquitoes, although they are out most spring and summer
months—even early Fall. As long as the temperature is above 50 degrees and the wind is 5 mph or less, mosquito danger, and therefore susceptibility to contracting heartworms, is high.
Heartworms can take up to 3 months from the date of contraction to enter the bloodstream. Although called heartworms, they typically end up residing in the pulmonary artery. Around 6 months after infection, the now adult heartworms begin reproducing and giving birth to live young. It is at this adult stage when dogs typically begin showing symptoms.
Symptoms that your dog has heartworms can vary, but they typically begin as a simple cough. The symptoms then progress to reluctance to exercise and easy exhaustion. Weight loss, fainting, and coughing up blood are also symptoms before ending up with congestive heart failure.

As a dog owner, it is important to take preventative measures against heartworm infection, such as reducing exposure to mosquitoes, blood testing, and preventive medication. Although difficult, reduce your pet’s exposure to mosquitoes in the first place. Consult us to have your dog blood tested, especially before administering preventive medication on your own. Your veterinarian will recommend how regularly your dog should be tested and when to take preventative medication.