View Full Version : Explain heart worm to me please.

07-18-2006, 10:56 PM
Would someone explain heart worm to me in "easy to understand" language? I'm doing a lot of research on it lately because I have one dog going through treatment because euthenizing her wasn't successful (long story). Anyway.

So....the mosquito carries the larvae stage of the worm. When it bites a dog, the larvae is transmitted into the bitten dog where it begins to grow and travel through the blood until it reaches the heart. Then the youth worms will lay more larvae which will grow into worms and move to the heart.

Am I right so far?

Okay.......so what happens to the first "set" of worms then? Do they eventually die off and the new worms "take their place" or do all these new worms just add on to what's already in the heart?

07-20-2006, 10:26 AM
This may help:


Also...you mentioned something about a failed attempt to put the dog down.....how the heck does that happen??????!!!!???? Very weird!

07-20-2006, 11:04 AM
Thanks for that link, I checked it out before. But it still doesn't answer my question, or I'm just not seeing it.

It says, "The heartworm larva (Dirofilaria immitis microfilariae) is spread from dog to dog by mosquitoes. When an infected mosquito feeds off a dog, it passes the infection into the bloodstream. The larva or microfilariae stay in the bloodstream for a period of time and then attach themselves to the inside of the heart and can also be found in the blood vessels of the lungs. When they mature in the heart they add their own microfilariae to the blood stream. The adult worms cause debilitating disease, reduce performance, and may cause death."

Then it goes onto treatment.

I understand that that once it matures in the heart it creates more larvae and the cycle begins again with more adults. So do these adults mature in the heartworm alongside it's "parent" or does the parent "die off" once the larvae matures? Kind of like taking it's place in the heart?

That's what's confusing me.

07-20-2006, 12:53 PM
Wow. I feel stupid. lol You know...I honestly have never thought about it. Good question though. I will ask my vet and see what he has to say about it because I can't honestly give you an answer. Have you tried looking up something about the heartworm lifecycle?? Maybe that would tell you if the parents just die off??? Don't know...I'm just grasping at straws here......sorry I couldn't help.

07-20-2006, 03:53 PM
I did try to view that life-cycle photo in that link you gave and I've seen it in various other websites but it's the typical "circle" life-cycle. It doesn't really say whether or not the mature ones die off.

It's not really a big deal........I'm just curious to learn how this whole "thing" works.

hehe Thanks!