Heartworms are small but dangerous parasites that can wreak havoc on your pet’s internal systems. In some cases, heartworm disease can be fatal especially if left untreated in the early stages. Heartworm testing is the only way we can know your pet’s worm count and determine the kind of treatment they’ll need.
Is my pet at-risk of getting heartworms?
Pets living in Ontario are at-risk of contracting heartworm disease. It is important that your pet takes a monthly preventive to protect them against potential infections. Before your pet starts a new preventive, heartworm testing ensures they’re not already infected, which would be detrimental to their health. Though dogs make better heartworm hosts, since their bodies are more ideal to the parasites surviving their entire life, cats are also still able to contract them. Heartworm testing includes bloodwork to determine if your pet’s blood has protein or microfilariae (heartworm offspring). It usually takes between five and six months after they’re infected for the test to be positive.
How does my pet get infected?
Heartworms are transmitted when an infected mosquito bites your pet. Mosquitos deposit the larvae into your pet, which usually takes around six or seven months to fully develop into an adult heartworm. After they’ve mated, they release microfilariae into your pet’s bloodstream. They can live inside your pet’s heart, lungs and blood vessels for up to seven years. Depending on how many heartworms have reproduced since your pet has been infected, they can have anywhere from one to hundreds of these parasites living inside them. If you’d like to book an appointment for heartworm testing, please contact us at 905-983-9010.
Is it treatable?
Heartworm disease is treatable, however it is a long and expensive process. Prevention is easier and cheaper than trying to cure it. If you notice any of the following symptoms in your pet, an early diagnosis could potentially save their life. Signs to look out for include:
- Persistent cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss