Heartworms are dangerous parasites that can live inside your pets. These worms are more common in dogs but they can also be found in cats. Regular testing is extremely important as the symptoms of these parasites are noticeable only when they are advanced. One dog may have as many as 300 worms present when diagnosed. A matured worm can grow up 12 inches inside your pet, allowing it to reach major blood vessels and potentially cause blood clots.
How does my pet get heartworm disease?
Adult heartworms may live up to five years. During this time, females produce millions of offspring called microfilaria. They live mainly in the small vessels of the bloodstream. The life cycle begins when a female mosquito bites an infected dog and ingests the microfilariae during a blood meal. The microfilariae develop further for 10 to 30 days in the mosquito’s gut and then enters its mouthparts. At this stage, they are infective larvae and can complete their maturation when they enter a dog. The infective larvae enter the dog’s body when the mosquito bites the dog. These infective larvae migrate into the bloodstream and move to the heart and adjacent blood vessels, maturing to adults, mating, and reproducing microfilariae within 6 to 7 months.
What are signs that my pet has heartworms?
There are rarely signs of heartworm disease until the condition becomes progressed. The signs can be mild but if left untreated can cause fatality. Here are signs you should look out for in your pet:
- Loss of appetite
- Persistent cough
- Unwillingness to exercise
- Heart failure
If your pet has any of these signs do not hesitate to call us at 506-858-9900. to schedule a heartworm test.
How is heartworm testing done in my pet?
In order to detect heartworms our veterinarians will conduct blood testing. The sample of blood collected from your pet is examined to determine the presence of heartworm proteins. Because heartworms affect the heart, chest, kidney and liver we will also perform other tests like X-rays and ultrasound to check for effects on organ function.
My pet is on heartworm medication, do they need regular testing?
Yes! Our veterinarians still recommend regular testing as your pets can still become infected. If your pet had a late dose or missed a preventative treatment, they can still get heartworms.
How can I protect my pet from heartworms?
To protect your pet from heartworms we recommend preventative treatment from a young age. Our preventative treatments come in the form of topical liquids or tablets. All preventative treatments must be strictly adhered to, as any missed doses can leave your pet open to an infestation.