10% Off Heartworm Tests &
12 Months of Heartworm Prevention!
5% Off 6 months of Heartworm Prevention!
What are Heartworms?
• Heartworms are a parasite that enter a
dog or cat from an infected mosquito bite
and invade the heart.
That is gross! I’m
gonna be sick!
What causes K9 Heartworms?
• Adult heartworms are found in the heart and adjacent
large blood vessels of infected dogs. Rarely, worms may
be found in other parts of the circulatory system. The
female worm is 6 to 14 inches long (15 to 36 cm) and 1/8
inch wide (5 mm). The male is about half the size of the
female. One dog may have as many as 300 worms
present when diagnosed.
• Adult heartworms may live up to five years and, during
this time, the female produces millions of offspring called
microfilaria. These microfilariae live mainly in the small
vessels of the bloodstream.
What is the life cycle of a
• The life cycle of the heartworm is complicated; the parasite requires the
mosquito as an intermediate host before it can complete its life cycle in
the dog. As many as 30 species of mosquitoes can transmit heartworms.
• The life cycle begins when a female mosquito bites an infected dog and
ingests the microfilariae during a blood meal. The microfilariae develop
further for 10 to 30 days in the mosquito's gut and then enter its
mouthparts. At this stage, they are infective larvae and can complete their
maturation when they enter a dog. The infective larvae enter the dog's
body when the mosquito bites the dog. They migrate into the blood
stream and move to the heart and adjacent blood vessels, maturing to
adults, mating and reproducing microfilariae within 6-7 months.
Where is heartworm disease found?
• Canine heartworm disease occurs all over the world. In
the United States, it was once limited to the south and
• The highest numbers of reported cases are still within
150 miles of the Gulf of Mexico & Atlantic Ocean.
How is heartworm disease spread?
• Since transmission requires the mosquito as an intermediate
host, the disease is not spread directly from pet to pet. Spread
of the disease therefore coincides with mosquito season,
which can last year-round in many parts of the United States
(North Carolina is one of these states). The number of
dogs/cats infected & the length of the mosquito season are
directly correlated with the incidence of heartworm disease in
any given area.
• The mosquito usually bites the dog where the hair coat is
thinnest. However, having long hair certainly does not prevent
a dog or cat from getting heartworms.
Excuse me, can we get
that in dog & cat size?
“There ain’t no
bugs on me…”
What do heartworms do to my pet?
• It usually takes several years before dogs show clinical signs of infection. The
disease is rare in dogs less than one year of age because the microfilariae take
five to seven months to mature into adult heartworms after infection.
Unfortunately, by the time clinical signs are seen, the disease is usually well
• Adult heartworms cause disease by clogging the heart and major blood vessels
leading from the heart. They also interfere with the valve action in the heart. By
clogging the main blood vessel, the blood supply to other organs of the body is
reduced, particularly blood flow to the lungs, liver and kidneys, leading to
malfunction of these organs.
• The signs of heartworm disease depend on the number of adult worms present,
the location of the worms, the length of time the worms have been in the dog and
the degree of damage that has been sustained by the heart, lungs, liver, and
• The most obvious clinical signs of heartworm disease are a soft, dry cough,
shortness of breath, weakness, nervousness, listlessness, and loss of stamina. In
advanced cases, congestive heart failure may be apparent and the abdomen and
legs will swell from fluid accumulation. There may also be evidence of weight loss,
poor condition, and anemia. Severely infected dogs may die suddenly during
exercise or excitement.
• Microfilariae (immature heartworms) circulate throughout the body but remain
primarily in the small blood vessels. Because they are about as wide as the small
vessels, they may block blood flow in these vessels. The cells being supplied by
these vessels are then deprived of the nutrients and oxygen normally supplied by
the blood. Microfilariae primarily injure the lungs and liver.
How is heartworm
• In most cases, one or more simple blood tests will diagnose
heartworm disease. Further diagnostic tests are essential to
determine if the dog can safely undergo heartworm disease
• We use an in-house antigen test. This test detects antigens
(proteins) produced by adult heartworms. It is the most widely used
test because it detects antigens (proteins) produced by adult
heartworms. It will be positive even if the dog does not have any
microfilariae in the bloodstream (approximately 20% of cases). Dogs
with less than four or five adult heartworms may not have produced
enough circulating antigen to produce a positive test result, so there
may be an occasional false negative result in dogs with a low
burden of parasites, or in the early stages of infection. Because the
detected antigen is only produced by the female heartworm, a
population of only male heartworms will also give a false negative.
Therefore, there must be at least four to five female worms for a
positive result by this test.
• A blood sample is centrifuged and then examined under
the microscope for the presence of microfilariae (baby
heartoworms). If microfilariae are seen, the test is positive.
The number of microfilariae seen gives us a general
indication of the severity of the infection. Approximately
20% of dogs do not test positive for micofilariae, even
though they have heartworms, because their immune
system has acquired the ability to destroy the microfilariae.
Other important tests:
• CBC, Chemistry & electrolytes – tells us what
your pets overall organ function is and if it is safe
to start heartworm treatment.
• X-Rays/Echo – shows us if there is heart
enlargement which can warn us about potential
future problems during heartworm treatment
• EKG – shows us if there are abnormal heart
How is heartworm disease treated?
• There is some risk involved in treating dogs with
heartworms, although fatalities are now rare.
• In the past, the drug used to treat heartworms contained
high levels of arsenic and toxic side effects occurred more
frequently. A new drug is available that does not have as
many side effects, allowing successful treatment of more
than 95% of dogs with heartworms.
• When some dogs are diagnosed, they have advanced
heartworm disease. This means that the heartworms have
been present long enough to cause substantial damage to
the heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, and liver. Your
veterinarian will advise you on the best treatment approach
for dogs diagnosed with advanced heartworm disease.
First we kill the microfilariae…
• If your dog tests positive for microfilariae
then he will come in for the day and be
given a steroid injection and his 1st dose of
heartworm prevention. This kills the
Second we prepare for treatment…
• When your pet is diagnosed, and is free of
microfilariae, we send you home with 6 months
of heartworm pills and an antibiotic that he takes
for 30 days.
• During this time your pet should come in for
“staging”. This is when we do bloodwork and
xrays to see how advanced the heartworm
disease is and make a treatment plan.
First part of treatment…
• After 30 days of antibiotics and 2 months of
heartworm prevention, your pet can start the
• For their first treatment they come into the
hospital & get their 1st injection and stay
overnight for monitoring. They go home the
following day with pain medications & have 30
days of strict confinement – no activity! The drug
kills the adult worms and causes them to break
apart – too much activity can cause them to form
a life threatening clot.
Second part of treatment…
• When your pet returns for the 2nd treatment he
will get 2 injections and stay with us for 2 nights.
Then return home again for another 30 days of
R&R. After that he can return to normal activity.
• 6 months after the last injection we will test your
pet and he should be free of heartworms!
No stress, just relax!
Life after heartworms?
• Typically dogs recover to their normal self
after heartworm treatment. Some owners
report their dogs are happier and more
energetic, gain weight and overall have
Can my dog get
heartworms after treatment?
• Your dog or cat needs to be on a monthly
heartworm prevention year round! Never
miss a dose or your pet could be infected
Please give me pills
I don’t want to do this
What about cats?
• Cats can get heartworm disease too but
it’s different. They only get one giant
worm! The catch is, they can’t be treated!!
Once your cat gets heartworms, they will
have it for the life of the heartworm!
• Prevent feline heartworm disease before
they get it! There is monthly prevention for
How do you prevent heartworm
disease in your pet?
• This part is easy! Start you puppy or kitten
on heartworm prevention right away!
There are safe products for even the
smallest of puppies and kittens.
• Adults (over 1 year of age) dogs should be
started once you have a negative
Prevention for Dogs:
• Monthly Pills• Monthly Topicals
Prevention for Cats:
• Monthly Pills• Monthly Topicals
Is it expensive for prevention?
• Compare the cost of $500-$1000 for
treatment? (Without complications) to the
monthly prevention which can be as low
as $6.00/month, for a basic pill, up to
$25/month for a product that covers
heartworms, intestinal parasites and fleas!
Trust me, your
money is better
“My pet doesn’t go outside” &
“There are no mosquitoes in the winter”
• Famous last words! News Flash! We are in the
south and with global warming we see
mosquitoes every month of the year and your
pet doesn’t even have to go outside to get bit!
You can bring the mosquitoes in with you!
• The majority of pets that get HWD have these
comments documented in their records where
their owners have declined prevention!
Say it ain’t so!!!!
Ways to save $$$$...
• Prevention is cheaper than treatment
• Buy in bulk vs. a single pill every month
• Coupons & rebates
Cat food – check
Food bowls – check
Cat toys – check
12 months of heartworm
Check, check & double check!
What about internet pet stores?
• Buying directly from your vet is safest; that
way we know what you are getting and
that it is authentic product!
• Manufacture guarantees only apply to
products bought directly from your vet!
• Rocky Point Animal Hospital has an online
store where you can buy prevention for the
same price as big internet pharmacies, but
with product guarantees!
Don’t let mosquitoes and
heartworms suck the life out of
your pet OR your wallet!
Test your pet and start them on
10% Off during
the month of April!
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