Heartworms are a form of parasite that can live in your pet for up to 7 years. Heartworm disease is what happens when your pet is bitten by an infected mosquito. The disease is more commonly seen in dogs which is why we offer a prevention program for them. When your pet is enrolled in a prevention plan we offer routine testing, preventatives and treatment if your pet becomes infected. Without treatment your pet can have internal organ damage and the disease can become fatal. We strongly encourage all our clients to keep their furry friends safe and protected from heartworms.
What are signs my pet has heartworms?
Heartworms cause serious damage to your pet’s health which is why they should be tested frequently for worms. The disease can result in serious heart problems. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us ASAP if you notice any of the following symptoms in your pet:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry persistent cough
- Unexplained fatigue
- Loss of appetite
How do you test for heartworms?
The only way to detect heartworms is by performing blood tests. When your pet is infected with these worms they release protein into your pet’s bloodstream. Since the worms can grow up to 12 inches and reach important organs we may perform other diagnostics. Digital X-rays and ultrasounds may be needed to assess the condition of major organs and determine how severe the infection is. If the test shows that your pet has heartworms we will begin a treatment plan to eradicate them.
When should my pet start prevention medication?
Ontario has seen a significant increase in the number of dogs who test positive for this disease. The disease is spread by mosquitoes which are more prevalent during warmer months. We recommend dogs be placed on prevention medication in late spring, summer and early fall. Monthly preventatives are affordable and effective in protecting your pet. To get your pet started on a prevention plan against heartworms, reach out to us at 416-463-8387.
When should my puppy or dog be tested for heartworms?
Ultimately all dogs should be tested every year for heartworms. Before your pet starts prevention medication we test them for heartworms. Preventatives are to be taken as prescribed every month, if they miss a dose then they should be tested again.
How do you get rid of heartworms if my pet has them?
Even though worms aren’t often detected in cats, it is possible for them to get the disease. There is no treatment for the worms in cats but they can take preventatives. In dogs, we can treat the disease with injections or surgery. The medication is administered continuously for up to 6 months to completely rid them of heartworms.