Heartworm in pets on the rise

In Victoria there are currently 38 cases of heartworm infection diagnosed, even in inner city Melbourne. 

What is heartworm? 

Heartworm is a parasite that is transmitted by infected mosquitoes, it can be transmitted via one bite from an infected mosquito; the larvae travel through the skin cells where they enter the circulatory system when they enter the heart and lung where they can grow and reproduce.

Heartworm can easily be prevented by ensuring your dog is on a heartworm treatment. This can be through several types: daily tablets, monthly tablets or spot on treatments or a once-yearly injection. 

Heartworm affects the heart, liver, kidneys and can also effect the general circulation of your pet, but in actual fact, despite its name, is a disease that primarily affects the lungs. 

Pets can show signs of heartworm infection with the following symptoms:
  • Dry, persistent coughing
  • Listlessness, lethargy and a developing aversion to exercise
  • Weightloss
  • Changes in coat condition

Prolonged infection can lead to some serious complications and can be fatal if left untreated. It is possible to perform a blood test to see if your pet is infected with heartworm. 

It's not easy to remember to give your pet preventatives at the same time each day or month to absolutely ensure a lack of infection, which is why veterinarians are starting to really herald the yearly heartworm injection. This can be done in conjunction with an annual vaccination, which means heartworm prevention can become pretty easy to ensure your pet is covered. 

The yearly injection, ProHeart is a sustained release formula, which ensures a complete and full 12 month prevention cover from just one dose. 

There are many benefits to the ProHeart injection:
  • Eliminates the worry of missed doses/regular monthly application
  • Can be combined with an annual vaccination, so you don't have to have separate appointments
  • It is suitable for dogs from 12 weeks of age, followed by a booster at 9 months and then a yearly booster for life 
  • It is easy to switch from monthly treatments to the injection - it can be done immediately

One thing to bear in mind is that if your dog hasn't had any heartworm prevention treatments recently, it is important to test your pet to ensure they are not infected.

One negative is that the ProHeart injection cannot be used in cats. Heartworm can be caught by cats, but it is more common in dogs. At this stage, for cats it is recommended monthly doses of hearwormer to ensure your pet is covered. 

Read our Heartworm Disease article for more information on heartworm.

Please do give us a call or drop by the clinic for more information on heartworm and preventatives today.