Heartworm & Flea Worm Information & Prevention Tips

Heartworm & Flea Worms info and tipsThe rising temperatures in St Louis mean the return of mosquitoes and fleas to the area.  Infected mosquitoes and fleas are the leading cause of heartworms and flea worms in dogs.  You know how it works… insect bites dog, dog gets infected either from the insect bite or the dog biting the insect.

With that in mind, Baxter’s K9 Complex provides information regarding heartworms & flea worms and how to prevent these diseases.  In addition to the info below, Baxter’s has two Vet Techs on staff that will be able to answer questions you may have regarding heartworm and/or flea worms.


What is Heartworm?

For your sake (and ours) we will not be too specific, but Heartworm is a disease where adult worms will live, grow, and spread in the right side of the heart… doesn’t sound good and it isn’t.  If left untreated it can be fatal.

How do Dogs get Heartworms?

A bite from an infected mosquito is the only way dogs get heartworms.  Dogs cannot infect other dogs with heartworm.

Heartworm Symptoms:

Early signs include tiring easily, exercise intolerance, and possibly a soft cough.  In more progressive stages the dog will begin to lose weight, increase their breathing rate, and heavily cough – in severe cases they may cough to the point of fainting -.

Heartworm Diagnosis:

Heartworm is commonly diagnosed through blood tests.  X-Rays and ECGs may be conducted to determine the severity of the disease.

Heartworm Treatment:

If your dog is diagnosed with heartworm, immediately contact your veterinarian for treatment options.

Heartworm Prevention:

Heartworm is easily preventable with prescription heartworm medications that typically are given in once-a-month doses.  Contact your veterinarian for details.

Flea Worms

What are Flea Worms?

Fleas may spread two different types of worms, Tapeworms & “Dipetalonema Reconditum”.  Tapeworms, the more common of the two, are worms that manifest in the dogs intestines, affecting its digestive system.  “Dipetalonema Reconditum” is a worm that lives under the skin causing extreme itchiness, but rarely causes a significant disease.

How do Dogs get Flea Worms?

Dogs get Tapeworms by eating an infected flea.  Dipetalonema Reconditum may be caused by simply being exposed to fleas.

Flea Worm Symptoms:

When infected with Tapeworm, you may see dry, white to cream colored segments of Tapeworm in the dog’s stool or in their fur.  With Dipetalonema Reconditum you may notice your dog scratching more biting themselves more frequently.

Flea Worm Diagnosis:

Tapeworms are generally diagnosed with a stool sample.  Dipetalonema Reconditum is diagnosed through a blood sample.

Flea Worm Treatment:

If your dog is diagnosed with either Tapeworms or Dipetalonema Reconditum, we recommend contact your veterinarian for treatment.

Flea Worm Prevention:

Both types of Flea Worms can be prevented by limiting a dogs exposure to fleas.  Prevent your dog from roaming in wooded and other insect populated areas.  Also, routinely bathing your dog with a flea shampoo and checking for fleas always helps.

As stated earlier, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding Heart or Flea worms.  One of our Vet Techs will gladly answer any questions you may have.