Animal Health
June 24, 2005
Negative health impacts of heart worm disease in dogs and cats

The heart and the pulmonary artery are the two main areas where the dirofilaria immitis lodge themselves thus causing blockage in animals.

The immature larval stage of the worms gets into the animal’s body after being bitten by a mosquito that carries the blood parasite. It takes over two months before they eventually reach the right side of the heart. Here, they grow into adult worms. {{more}} After about an eight-month period, they start laying eggs and the immature larval stage starts circulating within the blood system of the infected animal.

These adult worms in large numbers will eventually block the right side of the heart and also the way leading to the lungs. Just imagine what may happen to your motor vehicle if the line leading from the gas tank is blocked or if the gas pump is not working properly.

I must mention that during the initial stages of this disease, the heart will not become blocked in a month or two, but as the worms mature.

The signs of this disease in dogs normally start after a period of eleven months. These include a dry cough, difficulty breathing, which results in the animal being inactive, loss of weight and loss of appetite. One of the most typical signs I have seen is the animal getting tired after a short walk and finally, heart failure.

In cats the signs are a dry cough, vomiting, blindness and heavy breathing.

Next week’s article will deal with the prevention and control of heart worm disease.