Heartworm disease is a serious & potentially fatal disease in dogs, caused by a worm called Dirofilaria immitis. The disease is not spread from direct contact from dog to dog but rather mosquitoes. If a mosquito bites an animal that is infected with heartworm & then bites your dog, heartworm infection can be transmitted.
Left untreated, heartworm infection is often fatal. It may take a number of years before your dog shows outward signs of heartworm infection. The most obvious signs are often a chronic cough, shortness of breath, weakness & exercise intolerance. If a heartworm infection is suspected, further testing including blood tests & chest radiographs would be performed. If your dog is infected, treatment is a long & difficult process. If you let heartworm prevention lapse your dog may become infected with heartworm, so please discuss this with one of our veterinarians. We may recommend a blood test be performed in clinic (taking 10minutes) before continuing with heartworm prevention.
Heartworm prevention is required in all puppies over 12 weeks of age. There are a number of different options we offer for prevention. Some cover heartworm alone, while others are effective against fleas & intestinal worms as well. Preventive medications include monthly tablets, top-spot treatments (Advocate & Revolution) & there is a simple yearly injection (ProHeart® SR-12).
We are here to help answer any questions regarding heartworm disease or the most appropriate preventative for your dog.