When they bite, mosquitoes can transmit heartworm infection. Those heartworms can wreak havoc on your canine or feline companions. They can severely and sometimes fatally damage the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Fortunately, there’s a way to keep your dog or cat safe: by administering monthly heartworm preventives. Most heartworm medications also protect your pet against other parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, ear mites, fleas, and ticks. Call us at 519-969-7390 for further information.
How are pets tested for heartworm and how are they treated if infected?
Treatment for heartworm infection is far more expensive than prevention. Once per year, we recommend our dogs be tested for heartworm disease. This is a blood test where we use a very small amount of blood to determine if the dog has microscopic heartworm larvae living inside the blood stream. Once the dog has been confirmed negative for heartworm disease (they don’t have any heartworms living in their bloodstream), then we can recommend a regimen of prevention. With our warm climate, we typically recommend year round heartworm prevention in dogs. Also, any dogs travelling south of the border, especially warmer areas such as the Southern USA should be treated for heartworm disease throughout and after their trip because of the increased risk of heartworm disease in these much warmer areas.
Can cats get heartworm?
They are less likely to, but cats can indeed get heartworms. Cats can suffer from a syndrome referred to as heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD). The symptoms can be subtle and may mimic those of asthma or allergic bronchitis. Signs of respiratory distress such as rapid or difficulty breathing, wheezing, and panting are common. Other symptoms include coughing, vomiting (typically unrelated to eating), and loss of appetite or weight. Heartworm infection is more difficult to diagnose in cats than it is in dogs. There is no approved treatment for cats. Some cats spontaneously rid themselves of the infection; others might not survive it. Just one or two adult heartworms in a cat can cause serious problems.
How do I know if my dog has heartworm?
Some pets may not show any signs of infection and in those that do, symptoms can vary widely. In dogs, signs of heartworm disease can range from coughing, fatigue, and weight loss to difficulty breathing and a swollen abdomen (caused by fluid accumulation from heart failure). Canine heartworm infection can also lead to a life-threatening complication called “caval syndrome” (a form of liver failure). Without prompt surgical intervention, this condition usually causes death.