When an infected mosquito bites a dog, microfilaria (heartworm larvae) are deposited on the skin and enter the bite wound, making their way into the dog’s bloodstream. The larvae then migrate to the heart and develop into adult worms, which takes about 6 to 7 months. Once the larvae develop into adult worms they begin reproducing.
Sometimes the dog will not show any clinical signs if they have just been infected by a mosquito. Dogs that have been infected for a long time will develop a cough, have a reduced appetite, fatigue, and even weight loss.
Jefferson Veterinary Hospital recommends that you give your dog a chewable heartworm preventative (Sentinel Spectrum) once a month. If your pet is not currently on a heartworm preventative, we highly recommend that you bring your dog in to get a quick and easy heartworm test to be sure your dog is negative before starting your monthly heartworm prevention.