The most common external parasites for dogs are fleas, ticks, and mosquito’s.
Heartworm disease in dogs is included in both the external and the internal sections about parasites, since the heartworms themselves are internal, but are caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
When a mosquito bites an animal that is infected with heartworm disease, that mosquito picks up microscopic parts of the heartworm larvae.
It then passes that on to the next animal that it bites, which unfortunately can be your pet.
Once inside of your Golden Retriever, it will take several months and many larval stages for this larvae to mature into an adult worm.
The adults will eventually grow between 6 to 10 inches in length.
They do not lay eggs like many of the more common parasites do.
These adult heartworms mate and give birth to live microfilariae, which are essentially baby worms, while inside of your Golden Retriever.
However, it is not the baby worms that cause problems in the dogs, it is the adults.
The adult worms block the blood vessels in the heart and lungs, eventually causing death.
Every state in the United States now has record of heartworm disease. It is also a worldwide problem, not just a North American one.
Some people use heartworm preventatives only during the mosquito season.
©Photo Courtesy of Rowena Meineck
If you choose to do this, a blood test will have to be run again before preventatives can be re-started in the spring.
I prefer to keep my dogs on it year round for a few reasons.
Even during the winter, you always get a few unusually warm days when mosquito’s can rear their ugly heads.
By having my dogs on it throughout the whole year, this eliminates any worries about them contracting the disease.
The treatment for heartworm disease is unpleasant, expensive and does not always work. Sometimes your dogs will die from it regardless.
It is essential that your Golden Retriever be put on a preventative, as you definitely want to avoid this disease altogether. The good news is, warding it off is so easy to do!