Heartworm is a serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect your dog or cat. It’s caused by foot-long worms that live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels. They can cause severe lung disease, heart failure, damage to other organs and even death.
Heartworm is most common in dogs because the worms are able to live off their bodies better than in cats. This means that heartworms live longer, grow larger and multiply if untreated. Dogs can harbour as many as several hundred heartworms at a time, and worms live for up to seven years. And even after the worms have been removed, the damage doesn’t go away.
With cats, heartworms don’t survive to the adult stage and cats can usually only carry one to three worms at a time. And even with a lifespan of two to three years, they can still cause lasting damage to the respiratory system.
Heartworms are most often spread through mosquitoes, and as a result, heartworms are prevalent in southwestern Ontario.They’re also spread whenever infected dogs come in contact with other dogs.
So the question is, what can you do?
If your dog or cat is showing signs of exercise intolerance (getting unusually tired when they’re up and moving) or coughing, they might have heartworm. Even if your pet isn’t showing symptoms, it’s a good idea to get them tested.
Book an appointment with us for a blood test. We can also provide you with medication to prevent heartworm from occurring in your dog.