Did you know that heartworm disease is a serious and debilitating disease of dogs? It is caused by a worm which lives in the heart and blood vessels of the lungs and can grow up to 30cm’s long.
The disease is spread by mosquitoes which deposit microscopic larvae on the skin when they bite, the larvae then penetrate the skin and migrate through the body before finally maturing in the heart after a six month incubation period.
Dogs that live outdoors are more at risk than indoor dogs and if you travel north with your pet the risk of the disease increases the further north you go.
The main sign of the disease is coughing and exercise intolerance, a simple blood test can be done to establish if heartworm infection is present. The disease can be treated but like all things prevention is better than cure!
Protecting your dog from heartworm disease is easy, there are several preventative options available, these include monthly spot on preparations, monthly oral medications or the most popular option is the yearly preventative injection that can be done at the same time as your pets annual health check and vaccination.
We recommend that puppies should be started on prevention at 3 months of age. Any dog older than 6 months of age that has not been on regular heartworm prevention should get a heartworm blood test before starting on prevention.
The friendly animal health care team at your local veterinary clinic Riverbank Animal Hospital would be delighted to discuss heartworm prevention options for your dog, just give us a call or drop into the veterinary practice on the corner of Wharf and Through Streets in South Grafton.