Heartworm Disease

Heartworm Disease


Heartworms are long, slender, "spaghetti- like parasites" that live in the heart of dogs and occasionally cats. Many people are familiar with intestinal parasites of dogs and cats because these worms are sometimes seen in the feces. However, adult heartworms are hidden, and therefore, they are not visible to owners.

Mosquitoes serve as an intermediate host in the heartworm life cycle, and heartworms are transmitted to dogs and cats through the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquito population in Southwest Wisconsin is very high, and canine heartworm disease is present in this area.


Heatworm disease is most easily prevented by administering oral ivermectin, or topical selamectin ( I.E. Heartgard or Revolution) monthly. Heartgard is also a general intestinal dewormer, so your dog is dewormed each month he/ she receives the product. We recommend monthly administration of a heartworm preventative throughout the year. The administration of preventatives throughout the year helps avoid infestation if mosquitoes are encountered during travel or unseasonably warm weather. Frequent intestinal dewormings are an additional benefit when providing Heartgard year round. Heartworm preventatives are dosed according to the animals weight. You may bring your dog in at anytime to check its current weight.


Heartworm infestations are detected by analyzing an animal's blood. A blood test is recommended before starting a dog on monthly heartworm preventative. Yearly blood tests are recommended in animals receiving a monthly preventative, and they help detect early heartworm infestations in the event of a break in prevention. Puppies less than 6 months of age do not need a blood test before beginning monthly preventatives.


The Riverdale Veterinary Clinic treated 1 heartworm positive dog in the year 2015( a total of 503 dogs were tested). Treatment of heartworm disease involves a hospital stay and a series of injections. Treating is more expensive than prevention! Prevention is also safer for the animal.

* Please contact us with any questions regarding heartworm disease.


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