Now that summer is in full swing, our worst outdoor enemy is back! I’m sure you all know who I am talking about... Yes, that’s right... Mosquitoes! They ruin barbecues, buzz around your ears, steal your blood and leave behind a red and itchy mark. We all know mosquitoes are extremely annoying creatures, but did you know that they are potentially deadly to our four-legged family members too? These pesky creatures carry countless dangerous diseases to humans, and can carry and transmit diseases between our pets. In particular, the deadly parasite known as heartworm.
What is Heartworm?
As its name suggests, heartworm is a worm-like parasite that is found in the heart of both our kitty and pooch friends. Many people mistake Heartworm as a type of intestinal worm, but don’t be fooled! Heartworm significantly differs from all other worms and is the most dangerous type due to its fatal nature.
How can my pet get heartworm?
As we mentioned earlier, mosquitoes are the vessel that spreads heartworm. When the mosquito bites your pet to feed on their blood, larvae enter the blood stream. These larvae mature into worms that can reach up to a crazy 30 cm in length! The worms eventually become lodged in your pet's heart, which can lead to heart failure and in severe cases death. Our pooches are more commonly affected by heartworm disease but cats may also be at risk.
How can you tell if a pet is infected?
- Dry and persistent cough
- Lack of stamina when exercising
- Weight loss
- Dry coat
- Listlessness or weakness
Heartworm symptoms can resemble those of heart disease/failure. A quick in house blood test can be done at the clinic which can detect the heartworm in the blood stream.
How to treat it:
Treatment of heartworm is difficult and dangerous, so prevention is better than the cure! Unfortunately dogs and cats won’t take to Aeroguard to protect them from mosquitoes, and routine intestinal wormers do not provide cover against heartworm. Getting your pooch or kitty started on the right heartworm medication can be extremely confusing, especially with so many choices on the market – spot on topical treatments, oral tablets and yearly injections etc. But never fear, there is a product available that will protect your pets.
So make sure to chat to one of our lovely Veterinarians or Nurses about a treatment that will best suit your pet’s needs. Like we said, prevention is better than cure, particularly when dealing with Heartworm. Make sure your beloved pet doesn’t fall victim to these evil parasites!
To read more about heartworm see our clinic Heartworm handout
Check out this cool video on heartworm prevalence in Australia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ib7np-V4YPg&feature=youtu.be