In this VETgirl online veterinary CE blog, we demonstrate how to diagnose heartworm disease in a dog. This dog presented in severe anaphylactic shock after receiving heartworm preventative. Heartworm disease is a disease caused by the infestation of Dirofilaria immitis. In this video, we demonstrate three ways of how to diagnose heartworm disease:
- by echocardiography, where you can see the heartworms directly
- by easily checking out a spun-down hematocrit tube for some microfilaria fun
- by evaluation of a blood smear.
Depending on how long the infestation has occurred, the number of worms, and the host response, heartworm disease can potentially be life-threatening. Not only does it result in endothelial injury and predispose towards a hypercoagulable state, but it also results in pulmonary thromboembolism, pulmonary hypertension, eosinophilic granulomatosis, myocardial hypertrophy (secondary to pulmonary hypertension), and potentially congestive heart failure. Immune-complex disease with in the kidneys (e.g., glomerulonephritis) can also be seen. And… yet another reason why preventive medicine is so important!