With springtime comes bugs, including ticks, mosquitos, etc. These insects can spread a variety of infections including Lyme disease and heartworm.
Although Lyme disease rarely has symptoms, a common feature is recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints. There may also be a lack of appetite and depression. More serious complications include damage to the kidneys, and rarely, heart or nervous system disease. Check your dog for ticks regularly especially if they've been walking in a wooded area or field.
Heartworm is caused by a parasitic worm spread by mosquitos. It takes about four months, once a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. They then lodge in the heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels and begin reproducing. As more and more worms crowd the heart and lungs, most dogs will develop a cough. As it progresses, they'll become winded easier when exercising. With severe heartworm disease dogs can pass out from the loss of blood to the brain and they can retain fluids. If left untreated most dogs will die from the effects of heartworms. The most important thing to know is heartworm is easily prevented by a monthly medication. It is also very affordable. Once a dog gets heartworm it is significantly more expensive to treat. Talk to your veterinarian about options to keep your dog free of Lyme disease and heartworm!