Heartworms can pose a high risk to your pet's health at any time of year. They have the potential to multiply into more infectious parasites inside your pet's body. By regularly testing your pet for these parasites, you can detect infection early on and act quickly. Early detection can ultimately save your pet's life.
What is heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal health condition that can cause long-lasting health issues for your pet, even after heartworms have been removed. Heartworms can grow up to 12 inches long, living in your pet's heart, lungs, and blood vessels. A severe infection could put your pet at a higher risk for lung disease, heart failure, and permanent damage to surrounding organs. Though heartworms are more likely to infect dogs, it doesn't mean that cat owners shouldn't be vigilant.
What are the symptoms of heartworm disease?
When a heartworm has matured and reproduced inside your pet, your pet's worm count could go from one to 100. We recommend regular testing for pets so we can detect heartworms early on before they mate and multiply. Though a heartworm test is the only way to accurately diagnose heartworms, the following symptoms could be a sign of an infection:
- Persistent cough
- Attacks similar to asthma
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
Can heartworm disease spread among pets?
Your pet can't get heartworms from being in contact with an infected pet or wild animals. The disease is transmitted when a mosquito bites an infected animal and subsequently bites your pet. Once these larvae (eggs) enter your pet's bloodstream, the heartworms start to mature. Heartworms typically aren't detectable until 6 months initial infestation, when the larvae become mature adult heartworms. To test for heartworms, we typically take a sample of your pet's blood and run a test to detect proteins they leave in your pet's bloodstream (aka microfilariae). Pets should be tested for heartworms at least once per year. If your pet is due for their next test, please contact us at 604-522-3344.