The truth about heartworm

Heartworm is a parasite that can infect both dogs and cats.  It is much more common for a dog to be infected as cats seem to be more resistant to the parasite. Heartworm is spread when a mosquito bites an infected pet. This mosquito is now carrying an undeveloped form of the heartworm so every other pet this mosquito bites will also become infected.

Image courtesy of Novartis Animal Health

As the heartworm develops, it makes its way to the heart and lungs of the dog.  Once there, they can cause inflammation, bleeding and clotting.

Symptoms can include:

  • Weight loss
  • Dry coat
  • Dry cough
  • Lack of stamina
  • Weakness

In advanced cases, heartworm can be fatal.

The only way to confirm if your pet is infected is through a blood test which we can do in the clinic and have the results within 10 minutes.

Once your pet has been confirmed as negative, it is important to start your pet on a preventative. There are a lot of monthly heartworm treatments available, such as chews or spot-on applications. Your pet can also have a yearly heartworm injection which is great if you tend to forget to give the monthly application.

Heartworm is easy to prevent but hard to treat so ensure your best friend is fully covered.