For those who do not know what it is, well here is the abc’s of heartworm and preventive measures that we recommend.
Heartworm is a disease that mainly affects canines (dogs, coyotes, wolves). Once the disease is implanted in a region, it can not be eliminated because of the spread in wild canines that become a source of infection. Your dog does not really need direct contact with an animal. It is through the bites of mosquitoes that the heartworm is transmitted from one animal to another. By pricking an infected dog, the insect takes blood in which are heartworm larvae, called microfilaria. In hot weather, the latter develop in the mosquito, which transmits them to other dogs by pricking them. The adult worm can measure up to 30 cm. The heart and lungs are the main organs affected. It is possible to treat a dog infected with heartworm. However, the treatment is complicated, costly, involves serious risks and can even lead to the death of the animal. It is therefore much preferable to favour preventive treatment.
The majority of infected dogs have no symptoms at the onset of the disease but nevertheless contribute to the transmission of the parasite to other dogs. Here are some symptoms your pet may have if it is infected: cough, exercise intolerance, weight loss, lethargy, dyspnea (difficulty breathing), and unconsciousness. If your pet shows any of these signs, consult your veterinarian.
An easy to prevent illness with simple and effective measures!
A blood test that we call screening, performed on-site at our Veterinary Hospital in the spring, to ensure that your dog is not carrying the parasite. Then if the test is negative, the veterinarian will prescribe a preventive treatment for the summer season. And for the lucky ones who go to Florida every year and well we will recommend you give this treatment year-round because in the United States the disease is present year round.
Screening recommended every 2 years but…
Due to the lower prevalence of the disease in our region, screening is recommended every 2 years. However, if your pet travels with you in areas most severely affected by the infection, it will be recommended to do the test annually. If you have forgotten a treatment last summer, it will also be recommended to repeat the test this year. In addition, our screening test called SNAP 4DX, which we use at the Ste-Agathe Veterinary Hospital, also allows us to detect if your dog has been in contact with ticks by detecting antibodies against Borrelia, Lyme disease. Another growing disease in our region.
Medicines that fight many undesirable
Be aware that in addition to preventively treating your animals against heartworms, some medications also contain a good deworming, a flea and tick medication all with only one treatment administered once a month from June to November.