Heartworms are a form of parasite that should certainly be avoided. The worms can infect both cats and dogs (which are better hosts). They cause serious health problems like heart disease and can even cause death in severe cases. Treatment for heartworms can take several months so it's best to test regularly for early detection.
How does my pet get infected with heartworms?
Mosquitoes are not just pests to us humans, but they're also a huge problem for pets, especially dogs. When an infected mosquito bites your pet, they pass on heartworms to them. The worms then live inside your pet for months and sometimes even years, at which they mature and reproduce. The adult worms tend to live inside the lungs, blood vessels, and the heart of the infected pet.
What are signs that my pet has heartworm?
It's common for some pets to not show any signs of an infection, and for those that do, the symptoms can vary. Your pet's symptoms can be mild or severe depending on how long they have been infected and/or the number of worms present. Here's what you should look out for:
- Dry persistent cough
- Swollen abdomen
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty breathing
These symptoms can worsen rapidly, so we highly encourage pet owners to contact a veterinarian immediately if you notice any of the signs. To schedule an appointment please call us at 905-844-3331.
How can I protect my pet from heartworms?
They need to be tested regularly and be on preventive medication. Annual testing is advised for all pets but especially those that live or travel to hotspot areas. Your pet should also be on a year-round prevention plan that includes deworming and preventatives.