The Importance of Early Heartworm Prevention for Dogs
How Heartworms Compromise Your Dog’s Health
The only way the parasite can be transmitted is in larval form by mosquitoes. Once the larvae—known as microfilariae—have inhabited a host, it takes several months for them to grow into their adult form. As they grow they move from the muscles to the bloodstream and then to the large blood vessels that lead from the heart to the lungs. Once heartworms reach full maturity, they can reproduce. Many new microfilariae will then inhabit the blood vessels in the canine and may even become lodged within the heart as their numbers become plentiful. The infestation results in difficulties with blood flow and the heart may therefore experience excessive strain.
It can take months for your infected dog to exhibit any indications that something is amiss and sometimes up to a year from the initial mosquito bite. Some common visible symptoms of heartworm disease include:
Signs and Symptoms of Heartworm Disease
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Reluctance to exercise
A Threefold Prevention Plan
There are three components that make up an effective program for heartworm prevention in Markham and surrounding areas:
- Medication. There are various brands of preventive heartworm disease medications that your canine can take. Your veterinarian will be able to direct you as to which is best suited for your dog. They’re easy to administer and come in chewable-tablet form or as topical drops. In both cases the medication should be administered every month at the same time to be effective.
- Blood tests. Blood tests should be administered prior to commencing medication to establish that your pet is free of heartworms at the outset. There are some cases where your vet may recommend blood testing for heart worm disease—such as at their annual exam—during the course of the medication.
- Minimizing exposure. Since the only way your dog can contract heartworm disease is through contact with mosquitoes, limiting the amount of exposure to these insects is a good strategy. Avoid standing water, use screens on all your windows and sliding doors and consider installing a bat house on your property as bats are a primary predatory of mosquitoes and other insects.
Speak to a Vet for More Information
Got questions about heartworm disease prevention? If you’re in the GTA and need to consult a veterinarian, contact our caring team at Cachet Village Animal Hospital. We’re always here to help and happy to answer all your questions.