Heartworm Disease

Canine Heartworm

What is Heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis and primarily occurs in canines, but can occur in other animals, like felines. As the namesake alludes to, this parasitic invasion lives most commonly in the right side of the heart, and also the adjacent blood vessels. Their presence in the chambers and blood vessels damages heart function, reduces lung capacity, and in severe cases can be life threatening.

How is heartworm transmitted?

Infected mosquitoes transmit heartworm. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it ingests microscopic, immature forms of the parasite. These forms are then transferred to a new victim when the mosquito bites again. Within months, the microscopic larvae develop into adult parasites. It takes approximately six to seven months for the parasitic larvae to migrate to the animal’s heart. Once mature, they reproduce within the circulatory system, often occupying the right side of the heart and lung-supplying arteries. Advanced cases of heartworm disease may manifest as chronic coughing and reduced exercise tolerance. By the time symptoms appear, the disease is typically advanced and difficult to treat. An infected animals can stay asymptomatic for a while before showing symptoms, so prevention is crucial to avoid severe distress. Heartworm disease is a prevalent concern, particularly in areas with large populations of wild or stray animals. Prevention medications are essential for keeping pets healthy and safe, as untreated heartworm infections can cause severe health issues. While treatment is available for heartworm-infected pets, it can carry associated health risks and be costly. Fortunately, topical and oral heartworm protection options are highly effective.

How can I protect my pet from heartworm disease?

Your veterinarian offers heartworm protection. Typically, before starting heartworm prevention, your veterinarian highly recommends run a blood blood test on your pet to ensure no heartworm infection. This is because the preventative medication can likely kill the immature forms of heartworm abruptly in the bloodstream, potentially causing anaphylaxis, a fatal reaction. Furthermore, the preventative medication cannot eliminate adult heartworms. Therefore, if your pet has adult heartworms, they will remain untreated and continue to damage your furry friend’s cardiovascular and respiratory system. loved one. Book an appointment with our veterinarian in newmarket at Brooker Ridge Animal Hospital to discuss the options to protect your dog from heartworms.