Heartworms have several stages. They don’t start out as “worms.” Heartworm disease is actually brought about through mosquito bites to your dog or cat.
Heartworms themselves start out as a parasitic entity circulating in the blood of an infected animal. The mosquito gets this parasite from biting whatever animal that was. After that parasite is given to the mosquito, it is allowed to grow through several stages in the mosquito. (We will keep it all less technical!) Later, when the mosquito has a meal and bites your dog or cat, these parasitic entities are then passed into the bloodstream of your pet. Once this occurs, the parasite is allowed to grow into a full worm. During this growing stage of the worms in your pet, it won’t show up in a heartworm test if the mosquito recently bit your dog or cat. The reason for this is because it does take a couple months for the heartworms to go through the different growing stages it goes through before it can show up on the test.
It is called a heartworm because they congregate in the heart of your dog or cat. When your pet is first bit, the heartworms go through the bloodstream and stop in the heart. Before they become full worms and are just larvae, they reside in the heart where they are allowed to grow quickly in both length and size. Female worms have been seen to grow 14 inches long! As they grow and mature, they become sexually active and mate. Offspring is produced which puts more heartworms in your pet.
The solution to all of this is to get your dog or cat tested regularly and on a Heartworm Preventative! Heartworm preventatives are pills given monthly. Correct and honest heartworm testing is very important for the long life of your pet. Dr. Kevin Adney and Dr. Al Paredes give state of the art tests to ensure your pet’s results are accurate. Take time to do it.