A mild winter in the northeast has led the Companion Animal Parasite Council to forecast that the local heartworm population will be high this year. In the New York City area and elsewhere, heartworms are transmitted when an infected mosquito bites your dog. Fortunately, heartworms are completely preventable if you treat your dog regularly with heartworm preventive.
Heartworms are a parasite that are spread when a mosquito bites an infected animal. When the mosquito bites another animal, such as a dog, microfilariae are transmitted to the animal’s bloodstream. These microfilariae migrate through the bloodstream and eventually work their way to the dog’s heart. Once they reach the heart they become embedded and begin to grow. Some dogs may have 30 or more of these worms in their heart and lungs and the heartworms can grow to be more than a foot long. They can live up to seven years.
Heartworms are very dangerous for your dog and can eventually kill him. In the early stages of infestation your dog may not show any symptoms. The first sign is usually a cough. The cough will gradually worsen and your dog will become weaker and have trouble exercising. Eventually the dog can die.