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Heartworm Awareness

Every pet owner has heard about heartworms. They are easy to prevent but expensive to cure. Heartworms are caused by a bite from an infected mosquito. Unfortunately, there is no way of telling which mosquito is infected. That is why prevention is so important.

Heartworm disease is not central to one area in the United States; it’s been reported in all 50 states. At one point in time, people who lived in states like Oregon, California, Arizona and desert areas believed that their pets were not prone to this disease. But it was later discovered that due to irrigation and building, mosquitoes were able to survive in these areas.

Once a dog is bitten, what happens next?
It generally takes about 7 months for the heartworm larvae to mature into adult heartworms. Once they have matured, the heartworms will lodge in the heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels and are able to reproduce. The heartworms can mature to be 12 inches in length and can live for 5 to 7 years. Dogs can have up to 250 worms in their system.

How can I tell if my dog has heartworms?
Typically in the beginning stages of heartworm disease, your dog will not display any symptoms. There are no visible or detectable signs during the initial stages. Blood tests during the early stages have failed to detect them as well. It is not until the larva matures, that symptoms start to show. These include coughing and wheezing, change in activity level, loss of appetite or weight loss, jaundice, loss of consciousness or collapse or in some cases unfortunate death.

What steps can you take to ensure your pet stays heartworm free?
First and foremost, your dog should be on some type of preventative medication. It’s always best to speak with your veterinarian when trying to determine the best preventative treatment for your dog. There are several different methods on the market ranging from pills to topical treatments.

This summer make sure to keep your pet safe with a heartworm preventative treatment. Heartworm disease is preventable and treatable, if caught and treated in time. Heartworm prevention and an annual test are eligible for coverage under the AKC Healthcare Plan Wellness and Wellness Plus Plans. Plan ahead and protect your pet against Heartworm disease and other unexpected illnesses and accidents. For more information, visit or call toll free at 1.866.725.2747. You will be glad you did.

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