What do mosquitoes & hearts have in common? You guessed it... HEARTWORM!
Heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) are parasites which spread between dogs via mosquitoes. A mosquito ingests blood of an infected dog, and drinks in the microfilariae (larvae). When the worms are more developed inside the mosquito, they migrate to the mosquito’s mouthparts to be injected into the next victim (an unprotected dog) during their next feed. The heartworms enter the dog’s bloodstream and mature in the pulmonary arteries and right-side of the heart, causing potential heart failure and death.
It’s not all doom and gloom however, heartworm is easily preventable. That’s great news!
We recommend the Proheart SR12 injection which can be given to puppies from 12 weeks of age to prevent heartworm infections. Puppies require a booster at 6 months of age then 15 months of age which is usually when their adult vaccination is also due. Once they are adults, dogs require yearly SR12 injections to continue their protection against heartworm.
If your dog has not had consistent heartworm prevention for 6 months, they should have a heartworm test performed to ensure they haven’t already contracted the disease. It’s a simple blood test which is completed in about 10 minutes. A follow-up test is also performed 6 months later, as only mature adult heartworms will be detected on the test. The 6 months will give those immature worms time to mature and be detected on a blood test.
If you think your dog is safe because they spend most of their time living it up indoors, think again. Mosquitoes can find them in the house too, or when they go outside to the toilet. Prevention is best!
There are many options for heartworm prevention, if it’s not the yearly injection, there are a variety of monthly options available.
Please ask our friendly staff for more information on heartworm prevention. Call 3208 9233 or ask at your next appointment.