Heartworm disease is transmitted from infested dogs to non-infested ones by the bite of mosquitoes when they take blood. Once injected by the mosquitoes into the dog, the immature heartworms migrate to the blood vessels, enter the heart, and slowly become adults. The adult heartworms then produce offspring that circulate throughout the bloodstream and are picked up by mosquitoes to infest another dog.
The adult heartworms that live in the dog can survive for years and cause severe damage to the dog’s heart and lungs. The dog’s liver and kidneys may also be damaged.
Symptoms include lethargy, a persistent dry cough, a tendency to tire easily after exercise and gradual weight loss. If untreated, the disease is usually fatal.
Heartworm is becoming more and more common in Antigua & Barbuda. Your veterinarian can perform a simple blood test to determine if your dog is infested. If so, treatment should begin immediately. If the test is negative, your veterinarian can provide you with a heartworm preventative. They come in many forms including a chewable treat, monthly pills or a semiannual vaccine.
Heartworm disease is difficult to cure but simple to prevent.
Please contact your veterinarian and make sure your dog does not fall victim to this easily preventable disease.