Heartworms - a real risk
Heartworms are parasites that inhabit the heart and lungs of infected dogs as young as 4-6 months of age. Heartworm disease can cause serious health problems, and may eventually lead to heart failure and death. Heartworm infection is transmitted by mosquitoes. The prevalence of this deadly disease has increased steadily since it was first identified, and it now affects dogs in all 50 states.
Heartworm Life Cycle
1. A mosquito bites an infected dog, taking in heartworm microfilariae as it feeds.
2. The microfilariae develop into infective stage larvae within the mosquito.
3. The mosquito transmits the infective stage larvae to a healthy dog. The larvae migrate through the tissues, eventually reaching the heart.
4. Heartworms can grow up to 12 inches in length. Left untreated, heartworm disease may be fatal.