Through November 1, 2017
Britannia Animal Hospital
, Ontario,Get Directions
What is Heartworm?
Heartworm is a parasitic worm that can infect the circulatory system and the lungs of your dog. It is transmitted through mosquitoes. The presence of the worms cause changes to heart function and the circulatory system and thus restricting blood flow. If left untreated it will eventually lead to congestive heart failure.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of heartworm infection are generally only noticed once the infection has progressed enough to cause significant damage. Although treatment for heartworm is available, it is costly and can be dangerous to your pet. Signs of respiratory distress, such as rapid or difficult breathing, wheezing, and panting, are common. Other symptoms can include coughing, vomiting, and loss of appetite or weight.
Life Cycle of a heartworm
Heartworm disease begins with an infected animal, the source (usually coyotes, wolves, unprotected dogs), that have microfilaria (heartworm in its larval stage) in its blood. When a mosquito bites the source animal for a blood meal, it inadvertently sucks up a number of circulating microfilaria. Once inside the mosquito’s body, the microfilaria go through two growth stages over the next 2 weeks. During its third growth stage, it migrates into the mosquito’s salivary glands enabling it to burrow into your pet skin though the mosquito’s bite. Now inside your pet’s body, it will continue to develop over the next 6 to 7 months until it is sexually mature. Only when the worms are mature can they be detected by a Heartworm test.
What can I do to protect my dog?
Prevention is always the best defense when it comes to heartworm and your dog. Treatment for a positive heartworm infection is far more expensive than prevention and can be dangerous to your dog.
We recommend a yearly wellness heartworm panel for your dog before prevention is prescribed. The wellness panel looks at the overall health of your dog by evaluating organ function and looking at different cell lines as well as running a heartworm test. This small blood test is quick and easy, results are usually available within 24 hours and we will call you to inform you of them.
Monthly heartworm preventives given from June to November are available in oral chews or as topical liquids. Most heartworm medications can also protect your pet against other parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and fleas. We provide a variety of preventative medications; please ask us which one is best for you and your dog.