Townsgate Pet Hospital

Canine Heartworm Disease in Westlake Village

By Dr. Ahmed Mutalib
Post Date: 11/12/2014


A dog with breathing difficulty was presented to Townsgate Pet Hospital for a second opinion. A 12 –year-old, neutered, Jack Russell Terrier was having labored breathing of three weeks duration.  He stayed mostly inside the house, walks briefly in the backyard and rarely goes to the dog park. No contact with other dogs, no history of out of state travelling, and no mosquitoes are seen in the area where dog lives. The dog was not on heartworm preventive medications.

Following a detailed history and physical examination, heartworm disease was suspected. The appearance of lungs on radiographs further implicates the involvement of heartworms and blood tests confirmed the diagnosis.

Heartworm disease is due to a parasite, commonly known as heartworm “Dirofilaria immitis”, that mainly resides in the lung arteries and right chamber of the heart. It causes inflammation of lungs tissue and damages its blood vessels and varying degrees of clinical symptoms. The most common complaint is coughing. Other symptoms include labored breathing, exercise intolerance, and weight loss.  

The infection is transmitted by mosquitoes. Symptoms develop about six to seven months after infection. Heartworm antigen blood test is the confirmatory test of choice.

Coughing in dogs can be caused by various other infections. A detailed history, physical examination, blood-testing and chest radiographs are necessary to differentiate between various causes of coughing and labored breathing.

Treatment of affected dogs is available but is costly and is not without complications. Heartworm infection is a preventable disease. Most preventives are broad-spectrum anti-parasitic drugs that will also control worms that inhabit in the stomach and intestines. Even though heartworm disease is rarely diagnosed in dogs or cats in Westlake Village, the death of one family dog can be devastating. Prevention is much less costly than treatment.

At Townsgate Pet Hospital, we take pride in our services. We carry various heartworm preventive medications as well as insecticides, chewable as well as topical. We recommend using the preventives year-round.

Dr. A. Mutalib, Townsgate Pet Hospital, 2806 Townsgate Road Suite C, Westlake Village, CA. Phone: 805-230-1999.  Also visit us on to review clients’ testimonials.

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