Heartworms can be a fatal disease spread by infected mosquitos. Luckily, so far in Atlantic Canada, we do not see a lot of this infection. However, that does not mean that it is not going to make its way to our province, Ontario and the United States have a high number of infections. Therefore, we ensure that our pets are always protected during the mosquito season.
What are the symptoms of heartworms in a dog?
Unfortunately, dogs will not show signs of heartworm, until they become seriously infected. Some symptoms can include a cough, short winded, difficulty breathing and CHF (congestive heart failure).
How do dogs get heartworm?
A mosquito first needs to take a blood meal from a heartworm infected dog. The young heartworm will need to grow to what we call the L3 stage (which takes about 2 weeks), before it can become infectious.
What are the treatment options for heartworm?
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 and heartworm treatment 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.