Heart worms in dogs | Daily News

Heart worms in dogs

Heart worm in canine is Dirofilaria immitis is common in Sri Lanka. Dogs live in urban areas and older dogs more proven to heart worm infection. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. Once mature, heartworms live in the heart and large blood vessels of the lungs. Adult heartworms can measure up to 30 cm in length.


Heartworm larvae deposited by the feeding mosquito migrate in 5-6 months to the heart chambers or into the vessels of the lungs. Once matured, those worms affect the blood flow. The right side of the heart has to work much harder to push blood towards the vessels, which progressively causes heart failure.

Clinical signs

This worm infects the heart or lungs and symptoms develop and progress slowly over weeks or months. Initially your dog will tire easily, show shortness of breath or coughing after exercise. In the later stages coughing and fatigue will be observed at rest as well. Fever, eneamia, loss of appetite, lethargy etc are other common signs. If left untreated, heartworm disease can be fatal.


It’s a simple blood test. The vet can perform in any clinic in Sri Lanka. A drop of blood will obtain by the vet from the tip of the ear of your dog and test will give results just less than 5 minutes. The clients should be kept in mind that you should observe the sings of the dog before you go to the vet. It is your responsibility that should give correct and adequate information regarding the sickness of your dog to the vet in order to direct the clues and diagnosis test towards heart worm disease. Otherwise the disease may persist as misdiagnosed or undiagnosed.


If the test is positive there’s no second argument regarding getting treatment for the heart worm disease. There are injections and tablets for this disease. The vet will select injection as the 1st choice and will prescribe oral medicine. Treating heart worm disease is not a one shot regime. There is a course of medicine. It is your responsibility to present your pet dog to the vet on exact date for the treatment. In severe condition the dog may need to transfuse blood.

Managing heart worm affected dog

You have to keep in mind the lungs and heart of the dog is affected by this disease. The blood vessels can be blocked by the worms. When the vet treats the disease the worm die and can block the kidneys and small blood vessels. According there can be signs which you have to communicate to the vet immediately. The owner and the family members should understand and educate about the disease so that the life threatening situation of your pet dog can be overcome by providing the curable comfortable food and environment to your dog.

Resposible ownership

As the disease spread by mosquito the dogs can be re infected and spread the disease other dogs in the house or area. Responsible ownership is very important to prevent this disease. Educating your neighbors will protect their pets getting this disease. Cleaning the surrounding reduce the mosquito population. Application of mosquito repellent in your home in the evening and night will protect you and your pet dog from mosquito bite.

(The writer is a Veterinary Surgeon and holds B.V.Sc; M.Sc Poultry Science; Master of Public Administration and Management)


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