Due to the prevalent, year-round mosquito population in Naples, Fort Myers and Marco Island, canine heartworm disease poses a constant risk to our dogs. All it takes is one mosquito bite to infect your dog with this potentially fatal disease. When the mosquito is taking a blood meal from a dog, it allows transmission of the baby heartworms (otherwise known as microfilaria) into the dog’s bloodstream. The microfilaria then migrate in the bloodstream and eventually mature as adult worms within the heart. Adult worms in a dog’s heart can clog the arteries within the heart, causing significant inflammation. Potential signs of heartworm disease include coughing, breathing issues and lethargy, although some dogs will be asymptomatic.
Year-round heartworm prevention is strongly recommended for all dogs living in the Naples/Bonita Springs and surrounding areas, and the rest of the country for that matter. Whether your furry friend has free roam of a yard in Golden Gate, or remains primarily confined to a condo in Estero, he or she is highly susceptible to heartworm disease. The good news is that there are various effective heartworm preventative options available, which can be given orally or topically at home, or as an injectable by your veterinarian.Many of these products are available for purchase at our clinic or through our website at www.mynaplesvet.com or our online pharmacy at https://mynaplesvet.vetsfirstchoice.com.
Unfortunately, once a dog contracts heartworm disease, treatment is expensive, painful,and can even be life threatening. Dogs that have been diagnosed with heartworm disease will be prescribed an antibiotic for the first 30 days due to the presence of bacteriacalled Wolbachia. These bacteria, which liveon the adult heartworms, cause significant inflammation as the adult worms are killed. Following a month of the antibiotic, the dog will receive a series of injections into the muscles of the back over the course of several weeks. These injections are to kill the adult worms. Several months after the dog has been treated for heartworm disease, a blood parasite screen will be checked to ensure that treatment was successful. Dogs that have been successfully treated for heartworm disease in the past can still become re-infected by a subsequent mosquito bite, which is why monthly prevention is always of the utmost importance.
At Town & Country Animal Hospital, we offer a variety of heartworm prevention options and treatment, as well as preventative care for and management of many other diseases, including dog flea and tick infestation dog arthritis.