Heartworms are parasites transmitted to animals when a mosquito carrying larvae bites them. When your pet is infected the worms can live for up to 5 years inside your pet where they reproduce and grow. Heartworms can grow to 12 inches reaching the heart where they cause the most damage. The disease is potentially fatal which is why your pet should be on prevention medication and tested regularly. If your pet is diagnosed with heartworm disease it can take upwards of 6 months to completely rid them of worms. Prevention is always better than cure. Schedule your pet’s heartworm testing appointment at 604-591-5304.
How do heartworms affect my pet?
Heartworms clog the heart, pulmonary artery and blood vessels where they cause serious problems. The parasites live and reproduce inside your pet for years before there are clinical signs of an infection. In some instances the worms cannot only be removed by medication and may require surgery. When your pet is infected, they may develop heart disease, lung failure and respiratory issues. Here are some symptoms of heartworm disease:
- Dry persistent cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of stamina
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
How are heartworms diagnosed?
We perform simple blood tests to diagnose heartworms. The worms release protein into your pet’s blood which is what we look for. A special antigen test can detect the presence of heartworms 5 months after your pet has been infected. Heartworms can be detected in canine and feline pets, but dogs are better hosts.
When should my pet get tested?
We recommend that your pet gets tested every year before they begin prevention medication. Pets should also be tested every season if you live somewhere with a high infection rate.