Heartworms are a serious threat and in a lot of cases they can turn out to be fatal. These worms are transmitted by mosquitos and can affect internal organs such as the heart and lungs. The only way to keep your pet safe is to stay informed and take proper precautions. Following are 8 surprising facts about heartworms you probably didn’t know.
Heartworm Blood Tests Can Be Negative Even If Your Dog is Infected: This may come as a surprise but heartworm tests can be negative even if your dog has heartworms. This is mainly because these tests are geared to detect adult worms and it takes 6 months from heartworm larvae to become fully formed adults. Therefore, from the time your dog is infected till the time the heartworms fully develop into adults, there is a good chance the test is going to be negative even though your pet has worms.
Regular Intestinal Worm Preventives Do Not Protect Your Dog From Heartworms: Some newbie pet parents believe that regular spot-on and oral worm preventives also protects your dog against heartworms. While some products such as the Advantage Multi Dogs Monthly prevention do protect dogs from both heartworms and intestinal worms most do not. Be sure to check the packaging.
Dogs in All 50 States in the United States Are Susceptible to Heartworms: No state is completely safe from heartworms. Even low-risk states such as Washington, Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota witness cases of heartworms being reported on a regular basis.
It’s Almost Impossible to Detect Heartworm Disease in Its Early Stages: As mentioned earlier, blood test can only confirm heartworm disease after the worms reach adult size. Apart from that, dogs often exhibit no clinical signs of heartworm infestation. This makes it almost impossible to detect heartworms early.
Heartworm Prevention is Easy but Treatment is Difficult: Preventing heartworms is as easy as feeding a monthly oral tablet to your dog or administering a spot-on dose. Treating heartworm is not only much more difficult but oftentimes highly expensive.
Heartworm Disease Can Be Fatal: As the name suggests, adult heartworms clog up the arteries of the heart, which can lead to congestive heart failure. If left untreated heartworm disease is often deadly.
Wild Animals and Other Pets Can Also Have Heartworms: Dogs are not the only victims of heartworms. Ferrets and cats can also be infected. A mosquito can transmit the heartworm from one animal to the other. So, heartworm disease can be passed on from a ferret to a dog or vice versa.
Heartworm Tests Are Important Even If Your Dog is On Preventives: There are several scenarios where a heartworm preventive fails to do its job. Dogs often spit out tablets, spot-on treatments can get rubbed off, and you can end up administering a counterfeit pet med. This is why the American Heart Society and vets recommend performing an annual heartworm test even if your pet is on preventives.