Heartworm- A preventable deadly disease that's common on our little island


Baby heart worms (larvae) are transmitted by an infected dog to another dog by a mosquito. It takes about 6 months for the larvae to develop into a mature worm that can live up to 5-7 years inside your dog and occasionally a cat. Adult worms mate, have offspring and your dog can be the host for thousands of these worms – all doing unrepairable damage to your dogs heart, lung and arteries.

Treatment – The sure cure for heartworm is the fast kill method (American Heartworm Association). This treatment kills off all of the adult worms. Unfortunately this treatment is expensive and risky on Roatan. The slow kill method is affordable BUT does not kill the adult worms only the babies. The adults stay inside your dogs body and continue to cause damage until they die off. Slow kill requires 30 days of antibiotics followed by another medication for longer period of medication that will kill the baby worms.

Symptoms of heartworm include a cough after exercise, decreased appetite, lethargy, pale gums, nose bleed, swollen abdomen and dark urine. Your dog can show signs of fluid retention, neurological issues or lameness.

At the first signs your pet appears sick, seek medical help from a licensed Veterinarian. In rare cases cats can get heartworm from a mosquito but they are not a natural host and will not thrive.

Monthly prevention is the best protection for your pet.

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