Heartworm

There are two broad categories of worms that may affect our pet dogs and cats, heartworm and intestinal worms. Please see our intestinal worm page for more information.

Heartworm
Heartworm, or Dirofilaria immitis, is a parasite that is spread by mosquitoes, so your pet does not even need to be in contact with other pets to become infected!

Heartworm has a complicated life cycle.  Infected dogs have microfilaria, an immature form of heartworm, circulating in their bloodstream.  Microfilariae are sucked up by mosquitoes when feeding on the blood of infected dogs. The immature parasite develops into a heartworm larva inside the mosquito, then a single bite from a carrier mosquito can infect your pet (dog or cat). As the worms mature in the heart they can cause a physical blockage as well as thickening of the heart and associated blood vessels. 

Symptoms
In the early stages of infection there may be no visible signs, however, infection may eventually lead to signs of heart failure (reluctance to exercise, lethargy, coughing) and even death. Heartworm is present throughout most of Australia (except Tasmania and arid areas).

Although heartworm primarily infects dogs, cats can also become infected if no preventative care is taken. Heartworm disease in cats is caused by the inflammatory reaction generated by the worms presence.  Even small worms are inflammatory and disruptive to the circulation.

Before you start on Prevention
If your dog has not been on heartworm prevention, we strongly recommend a heartworm test prior to starting a prevention program, followed by a repeat test 6 months after commencing. 

Diagnostic tests are usually not very helpful to confirm heartworm infections in cats and cats may die even before developing any clinical signs.

Prevention 
Thankfully, heartworm is very easy to prevent and should form part of your pet health care routine. We have very effective preventative treatment options available including tablets, spot-on's and even an annual injection for dogs administered by one of our vets. One of the key benefits of the ProHeart SR-12 injection is that in dogs over 9 months of age it will protect your dog against heartworm infection for 12 months, if this lines up with your annual vaccination you only need to remember once a year to protect your dog against heartworm.

For cats, we recommend spot-on products to prevent heartworm disease as they are very effective and easy to apply. 

Please call us to discuss the best heartworm prevention for your pet.

Healthcare Services for your pet:

Health Check  |  Cat Vaccination  |  Dog Vaccination  |  Intestinal Worming  | Heartworm  |  Flea Control  |  Tick Control