Heartworms are a type of parasite that mostly affects dogs. Heartworm infections are dangerous because the worms can go undetected for months. An infection can affect the heart and lungs and if your pet isn’t treated promptly they can succumb to the disease. To prevent this from happening your pet should be tested at least once every year and should take preventatives.
What are signs of heartworms?
Signs of a heartworm infection will be more visible if your pet has been infected for a long time and if they have a large amount of worms. This means the presence of heartworms can cause mild to severe symptoms in your pet. Here are the signs you should look for:
- Persistent dry cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Immense weight loss
- Decrease in appetite
If you notice these symptoms in your pet, you should have them see a veterinarian for proper analysis. Our team will be able to properly diagnose your pet and provide treatment. Please call us at 519-763-1082.
How are heartworms diagnosed?
To detect heartworms we collect a sample of your pet’s blood. Heartworms can live in the heart and blood vessels where they release protein. The presence of heartworm proteins in their blood means they have an infection. The test can only detect worms about 5 months after they have been infected. If the test shows worms, we may perform additional diagnostics to check the function of the heart and other important organs.
How can I protect my pet from heartworms?
To protect your pet from a heartworm infection they should be on prevention medication. We usually test for an infection before your pet is on preventatives. Preventatives must be taken as prescribed without missing or administering doses late. Medications can be in the form of tablets or liquids. In addition to the medication your pet should be vaccinated against heartworms every 6-12 months.