Dog Heartworm Test
Heartworm is a parasitic worm that lives in the blood vessels and is transmitted by mosquitoes. Because they most commonly end up in the lungs or the heart, they are extremely dangerous and can even lead to death. While not seen commonly in New Brunswick, it is important to talk to your veterinarian about heartworm prevention if you will be travelling out of province with your dog, especially to high-risk locations such as southern Canada or the US. By placing your dog on a proper vet-recommended heartworm preventive, you can keep your four-legged family member safe from a potentially fatal parasitic infection while on vacation!
If a dog has heartworms, what symptoms should I look for?
The most common symptoms seen in dogs with heartworm include a persistent cough, exercise intolerance, decreased appetite, anemia, fainting and weight loss. Severe heartworm disease can lead to heart failure or a blockage in the blood vessel. If you suspect your dog may have heartworm disease, it is crucial to bring them in for an exam with a veterinarian.
How does a dog get heartworms?
Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes carrying the worm larvae. The enter the body through the mosquito’s bite and migrate through the blood vessels often ending up in the heart or the lungs. They continue to mature as they migrate and will eventually start to reproduce and multiply. If an infection gets severe enough, a large number of heartworms can cause an often fatal blockage in the blood vessel.
What are the treatment options for heartworms?
There are different degrees of treatments depending on the severity of the heartworm. The general treatment is a series of injections deep into the muscle. If the heartworm is severe to the point of causing sudden collapse and Congestive Heart Failure, a heart specialist would need to intervene in order to remove the worms surgically.
Why is recovery for heartworm treatment so challenging?
Depending on the treatment prescribed, recovery for this disease can take up to 2 years. It can also be dangerous. As the worms begin to die, they break up, during this time there is a chance that the pieces cause a blockage in the heart. It is very important to keep your dog quiet during this critical time.