What are heartworms?

Heartworms are foot-long worms that live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of affected pets. Heartworm disease causes irreversible damage to the heart, lungs and other organs. It can affect dogs, cats, and several other species. Heartworm disease is fatal if not treated.

Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. The mosquito bites a dog infected with heartworms, picking up microfilaria (baby heartworms) in the bloodstream. The microfilaria then mature into infective larvae while inside the mosquito. The mosquito then bites your pet, injecting these larvae into the bloodstream. The larvae travel through the bloodstream of your pet to the heart, where they grow into adult heartworms. In Tennessee we are surrounded by lakes and rivers, creating the perfect environment for mosquitoes. Your pet is at risk for heartworm disease!

Every pet should receive a yearly heartworm screening, and be prescribed a heartworm prevention. At DeKalb Animal Clinic we offer several options for getting your pet the prevention he or she needs. For more information about heartworms, check out this website from the American Heartworm Society.