Heartworms are parasites that can live inside your pet’s heart and blood stream. Both cats and dogs can become infected, but it is mostly seen in canines. Your furry friend can develop heartworm disease after they’ve been bitten by an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes pass on larvae that develop into adult heartworms when they enter your pet. As many as 300 heartworms can live inside your pet, depleting them of energy, blocking their heart and damaging organs. Regular testing is a key part of protecting your pet from developing a heartworm infection.
How do heartworms affect my pet’s health?
Heartworms are particularly dangerous because they can infect your pet for months and go unnoticed. Heartworms can mature and produce offspring inside your pet making the infection more deadly. The worms can grow up to 12-inches and can reach the heart where they can cause irreparable damage. When your pet has heartworms you may see the following signs:
- Swollen belly
- Persistent cough
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Heart failure
Based on the amount of worms your pet has they may require surgery to get rid of them. For feline friends, there is no treatment which means they have to pass the worms on their own. This is why prevention is key. If you’re concerned about your pet having heartworms please book an appointment at 613-829-0220 or 613-843-1334.
How are heartworms diagnosed in pets?
Only a blood test can confirm the presence of heartworms in your pet. Even if your pet is showing all the signs our team will still collect a blood sample to perform an antigen test which detects heartworm proteins. The veterinarian will also perform other tests like X-rays to examine the heart, kidney and liver as heartworms affect the functionality of these organs.
What is the best way to protect my pet from heartworms?
Early prevention is the best protection you can give your pet. Treating an infection can be very expensive which is why we always encourage pets to be on prevention medication. Preventative medication should be given every month as injections or topical medicine.