April is heartworm awareness month! According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworm disease has been diagnosed in every state in the United States and is on the rise. Heartworm disease is a preventable condition in dogs. The disease is caused by a worm (Dirofilaria immitus) that grows up to 12 inches in length in the heart of a dog. The long, thin worms produce live offspring (microfilaria) that circulate in the bloodstream and are ingested by mosquitoes when they bite an infected dog. The microfilaria develop into an infective stage larvae within the mosquito, and these larvae are transmitted to another dog when the mosquito bites the next dog. The life cycle for this parasite is complete only in the dog, however, cats and ferrets can also be affected by heartworm disease. Canine heartworm disease is diagnosed by a blood test (a simple test requiring just a few drops of blood, most often run in-clinic), Treatment for Heartworm disease is both costly and hard on the dog. Prevention of this disease is much preferred to treatment. Dogs left untreated can develop signs similar to congestive heart failure. At Hazel Ridge Veterinary Clinic we have several options to best meet your pets’ needs, both oral medications or by injection given in the clinic. Please call our office to schedule a heartworm test, if needed, or to renew your prescription for heartworm prevention. For more information on preventing heartworm disease click this link.