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April 2015

shihtzu being examined at the vet office

As the (Heart) Worm Turns

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Arizona has lots of good things like sunny days, low humidity, and no pesky daylight savings time. And one bad thing we didn’t have…mosquitoes! But an increasing number of man-made lakes, water features, and stagnant swimming pools have resulted in a glut of mosquitoes. This means more than just running out and buying a big flyswatter.

Mosquitoes mean heartworm, and heartworm means big trouble for dogs. More heartworm cases are now being diagnosed in dogs throughout Arizona including Queen Creek and San Tan Valley.

What is Heartworm?

  • A very serious, often fatal disease transmitted between dogs via mosquitoes.
  • It only takes one infected dog and a mosquito to put other dogs at risk.
  • Caused by a parasitic worm that, in its adult stage, lives in the heart and the major artery to the lungs.
  • Heartworm is not transmitted by blood transfusions
  • It is seldom found in people
  • There have been cases where cats have contracted it.

How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Heartworm?

  • Heartworm can be present for years before any symptoms are noticed
  • By that time the disease is well advanced
  • Signs of heartworm may include coughing, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and weight loss.
  • The only way to know if your pet is infected is through a blood test
  • If the test is negative your dog can be placed on preventative treatment
  • Preventative is an easy to administer once-a-month chewable tablet.

If a dog tests positive for heartworm, taking the preventative can be dangerous. And the treatment to cure the disease is very expensive, lengthy, unpleasant, and may come too late to save your pet. No dog is really safe. Even if your area is considered relatively mosquito-free, you can put your pet at risk if you take your dog with you when you go hiking, camping or fishing especially during the times when mosquitos are most active.

So get your dog tested and on the monthly pill regimen now.

—Rikki Schmidt

Contact Us

270 East Hunt Hwy, Ste. #4
San Tan Valley, AZ 85143
480-987-4555