Heartworm is a very serious and potentially fatal condition that is caused by parasitic worms that live in the heart and blood vessels that supply blood to the lungs of animals affected.
It is unfortunately all too easy for a pet to contract heartworm disease due to mosquitoes that are carriers of heartworm parasites. Infected misquitoes will bit an animal and inject the immature parasites into the tissue through saliva.
After the worms have been injected, they begin to develop. This leads to them migrating to the lungs and a high chance for them to reach the heart as well - where the heartworm parasites will mature into adults and reproduce. Heartworms can grow to 15 to 30cm long and in very severe cases, dogs may be infested with hundreds of worms as mature worms produce thousands of larvae that can be spread to other dogs or cats by mosquitoes.
The presence of heartworms can cause damage to the lungs, liver and heart. With more severe infestations, death can be a result of severe damage to those organs. Heartworm disease is a very serious threat to pets in Canada, and more prominently dogs. However, there is good news - once aware this is a condition to be on the look out for, heartworm can be easily prevented through regular testing and the use of preventative medicine.
It can be very difficult to determine whether your pet has adult heartworms just by observing them, however a persistent cough, especially during exercise, is a classic sign to be wary of. A cough combined with lack of energy during exercise can potentially be indicative of a more severe case. Veterinary blood tests and other examinations are used to make a definite diagnosis.
Baldry Veterinary House Call Services in Barrie, Ontario will visit your pet at home and do the appropriate blood work to diagnose, and then prescribe the preventative medication if needed. Opt for heartworm prevention before it's a problem, call for more information.