It’s taken me a while to track this down. I’m sharing a video today that’s kind of gross. It’s a stern message about why heartworm prevention is so important.
The dog in this video has so many heartworms that the veterinarian seeing him has decided to remove them surgically. Remember that adult heartworms live in the right side of the heart. The upper right chamber is the atrium. The jugular veins and vena cava connect to this chamber to return blood to the heart from the rest of the body. This dog has a literal tangled ball of worms in the atrium, some in the ventricle, and undoubtedly some in the vessels that then go to the lungs. Without some form of treatment, my guess is that this dog would probably die of his infection.
The video depicts the vet using a very long pair of forceps (alligator forceps) to reach down through the jugular vein and pull the heartworms out. There’s a fair amount of blood, but there’s not a ton of anatomy to see. The patient is covered in a big drape. The patient has a good recovery (included in the video), so there’s a happy ending here.
In keeping with my “Do” philosophy, please DO keep your dog on heartworm prevention YEAR-ROUND. If you’ve not given it through the winter, get a heartworm test done and get the prevention started ASAP.