What is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs and it is THE NUMBER ONE KILLER of dogs in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The disease is spread by infected mosquitoes and so it is very easy for your dog to contract heartworm as we have so many mosquitoes throughout the islands. If an infected mosquito bites your dog then it can take as little as 120 days (4 months) for your dog to have full blown heartworm disease. Symptoms of the disease include coughing, weight loss, weakness, intolerance to exercise and dull coat. The diagram to the right shows how your dog can get infected.
What Are Heartworms?
Heartworms are worms that grow, from larvae, inside a dog after it has been bitten by an infected mosquito. The worms can grow up to 12ft long and live in the heart, lungs, & blood vessels of your dog, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and organ damage. Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone.
A dog with heartworm will live significantly less years than an uninfected healthy dog.
The picture to the left shows the heart of a dog that died from heartworm. The white spaghetti type strands are the worms that have grown inside the heart.
Protect with Heartgard
The good news is it is VERY EASY to prevent your dog from contracting heartworm! When your puppy is about 10 weeks old you can start giving it heartworm medication. This medication kills heartworms in the larvae stage and prevents possible serious damage to your dog. Your dog will require one tablet per month FOR LIFE.
The TCSPCA sells Heartgard tablets individually, or you can buy a years supply by purchasing a box of 12. Dependent on the weight of your dog the cost varies as such:
Up to 25 lbs $6.00 for 1 tablet or $66 for 1 year
26 - 50 lbs $8.00 for 1 tablet or $88 for 1 year
51-100 lbs $10.00 for 1 tablet or $110 for 1 year
Which means that for as little as $10 a month you are ensuring that your dog stays happy and healthy and will live a longer life!
This video explains how the disease can affect your dog and tracks the progression of the disease.