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Heartworm Testing for Pets

Heartworms are internal parasites that can be deadly if left untreated.

Heartworms are internal parasites that mainly affect dogs. They are called heartworms because they can reach your pet's heart and cause blockages. This parasite can be deadly, which is why testing and prevention are crucial. Treating heartworms can be difficult and tedious for your loyal companion, so it's best to prevent them. Cats can also catch heartworms, however, there is no approved treatment for them.

How does my pet develop heartworm disease?

Your pet develops the disease through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes carry baby worms which develop into larvae after two weeks. The larva is passed onto your pet, where they live and grow into mature adult worms. After six months, the worms are fully developed and can begin to multiply. The longer the worms go undetected, the harder it is to treat the disease.

Why are heartworms so dangerous for my pet?

Heartworms are dangerous because they can live inside dogs for up to 7 years, and in the early stages, your pet won't show symptoms. Cats aren't good hosts for the worms, so they can live inside them for 2 or 3 years. While inside your pet, they can damage vital organs, mainly the heart, blood vessels, lungs, liver, and kidneys. The more worms your pet has, the more serious the symptoms. In severe cases, some dogs can even die. Other signs of an infestation in dogs include:

  • Fatigue
  • Persistent cough
  • Swollen belly
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dark, bloody, or coffee-coloured urine

Cats will experience symptoms like fainting, seizures, coughing, asthma attacks, and vomiting.

If your pet is showing signs of heartworm, call us immediately at 416-966-1830.

Can heartworms be prevented?

Yes, although mosquitos are everywhere, putting your pet on heartworm preventatives is worthwhile. Preventative medication can be in the form of vaccines, liquids, or tablets. No doses must be missed or administered late, as this can leave your pet susceptible to an infestation. Dogs should be vaccinated every 6 to 12 months. Your pet should also be tested annually, especially before starting prevention medication.

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