Heartworms are parasites transmitted to dogs through mosquito bites. When an infected mosquito bites your loyal companion, they pass on larvae that mature into heartworms. Heartworms can live up to 5-7 years in dogs. They can go months without being detected. While inside your canine companion, they deplete their energy, can cause heart failure, blood blockages, and lead to life-threatening cardiovascular collapse. Fortunately, heartworm disease can be prevented if your dog is tested regularly and is currently on prevention medication.
How often should my dog be tested for heartworms?
Annual testing is necessary to protect your dog. Heartworms need to be at least 7 months old for the infection to be diagnosed. Dogs should be tested at the following times:
- A puppy under 6 months of age can start preventive medication but should be tested the following spring and then annually thereafter to make sure they are heartworm free.
- If your dog is older than 7 months, they should be tested before they start taking preventives. They need to be tested at 6 months and 12 months after, then annually after that.
Why is it important to prevent heartworms in dogs?
Heartworms are extremely dangerous for dogs. When your dog has heartworms, important organs like the heart, lungs, liver, kidney, and blood vessels can get damaged. In severe cases, a heartworm infection can cause death if it’s not treated. Your loyal companion will have the following symptoms once infected:
- Difficulty breathing
- Bloody or coffee-coloured urine
- Pale gums
- Swollen abdomen
- Weight loss
- Persistent coughing
The more worms your dog has, the more serious their symptoms will become. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment to get them tested. Reach out to us at 905-332-4014.
What happens if my dog tests positive for heartworms?
Diagnosing heartworm disease early can make treatment easier for your dog. The veterinarian will first stabilize your canine friend (treat their symptoms) and then create a plan to flush out the worms. A treatment drug will be administered to rid your dog of the worms, and complete rest is mandatory during this time. Once treatment is complete, your dog will be started on a heartworm preventative.