What is heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease is caused by parasitic worms that infest a dog's heart and the surrounding blood vessels. Left untreated, heartworms can grow up to 35 cm long, and seriously damage a dog's heart and lungs - even causing death.
How do dogs get heartworm?
Heartworm is passed from dog to dog by mosquitoes during the spring, summer and fall. It starts when a mosquito bites an infected animal that is carrying microscopic heartworm larvae, called microfilariae, in its blood. The mosquito takes in the immature larvae when it feeds. During the next two to three weeks, the larvae develop into the infective stage while still inside the mosquito. When the mosquito bites again, it can pass on the infective larvae to a healthy dog. One bite from an infected mosquito is all it takes.
Watch the video to see how heartworm disease is transmitted
What are the signs of heartworm disease?
Signs that your dog has heartworm include fatigue, weight loss and chronic cough. Unfortunately, it takes at least 6 to 7 months after infection for the symptoms to become noticeable. By then the disease is very advanced and treatment becomes complex, and potentially dangerous. Treatment is also quite expensive because the drug required to kill adult heartworms requires close supervision from your veterinarian.
How can I make sure my dog doesn't get
Prevention is the very best way for you to protect your pet from heartworm disease. Springtime (the onset of mosquito season in most parts of Canada) is the time to take your dog to your veterinarian for heartworm prevention. A blood test may be needed to ensure your dog is heartworm-free. Then, your dog will be prescribed a preventative medicine like once-a-month HEARTGARD-30 PLUS.