Heartworm and Other Parasites
Heartworm parasites can cause potentially fatal complications in both dogs and cats, but it can be easily prevented with a simple monthly treatment. At Silver Heights Veterinary Hospital we make heartworm prevention a part of every one of our pet patients' annual wellness examinations.
How Pets Become Infected With Heartworm
Heartworms are actual worms that can grow up to one foot in length. They infest the heart, blood vessels and lungs of infected pets, which can cause lung disease, heart failure, and other organ damage. While heartworms are most concerning in dogs, cats, and ferrets, they are also carried by coyotes, foxes, wolves, and other wild animals.
Dogs are the natural host for heartworm, and they're spread by mosquito bites. When a mosquito bites an animal that's already infected with heartworm disease, it takes blood from the animal along with baby worms, which develop and grow in its body for up to two weeks. After that, if it bites a healthy animal, it infects the new animal with these developed worms. After being infected, it takes about six months before the heartworms mature in the pet's internal organs.
Testing for Heartworm
Because of the long incubation period for this disease, your pet can be infected for months before showing any symptoms. The earlier we diagnose the disease, the easier it can be to treat it, so it's important that we find out your pet has been infected as soon as possible. We use different blood tests for cats and dogs, but it's important to get all animals tested every year to make sure they haven't developed the disease despite being medicated to prevent infection.
Preventing heartworm is a simple process. We prescribe a chewable medication for your pet to take once a month that will prevent the heartworms from developing in your pet's body. Because we can't test puppies and kittens before the age of six months, we give preventative medication at that age before we can test. Even though mosquitoes are only active for part of the year, it's important that you give your dog or cat medication all year long, to keep the cumulative immune effect active.
Looking for a Veterinarian in Winnipeg Manitoba?
We believe that preventative veterinary medicine is the best type of care for your pets, and that includes medication to prevent heartworm infection in both dogs and cats. Give us a call today at (204) 504-5600 and we'll make an appointment to begin your pet's medication right away.