Heartworm disease transmission is pretty straightforward and prevention is fairly simple, but it’s a large problem that not everyone understands. Here are the facts!
Heartworm is a parasite that is transmitted by mosquitoes during warm months. The place in a Canada where there is the highest risk of transmission is right here in Southwestern Ontario, because of our climate. One of the most important things to note about transmission is that ALL DOGS ARE AT RISK. The most common thing we hear when declining prevention is that the dog doesn’t go outside very often, or go very far from home. It’s scary, but it only takes one infected mosquito to transmit a parasite that could be deadly and that deadly mosquito could be anywhere. We know this because we swat those pesky mosquitoes away on a daily basis, wherever we go!
We test annually to make sure your pet is not infected, even if he/she has been on prevention. We test in the spring because it can take 7-9 months for heartworm to mature to a stage where it is recognized by our testing method. Spring is 7-9 months after the latest possible infection in the previous season.
We have come a long way in this area! It’s an exciting time for the vet industry, because we can easily cater to our clients when it comes to heartworm prevention. Typically, we recommend preventative medications for our dogs from June to November. There are oral medications and topical medications, covering a wide array of parasites. We carry many in our pharmacy, and if we don’t have one that you want, we are happy to order your preferred product. We want to make it as easy as possible to protect your pet.
We won’t say much about this because treatment is something we hope never has to happen. If it does, the treatment can vary and would be well planned out for your pet by the veterinarian. It’s expensive, it can be dangerous to your pet, and can include many tests and vet visits to ensure it is done properly.
Testing annually and purchasing monthly prevention for 6 consecutive months can seem daunting, but I promise the stress and cost is greatly minimized in comparison to treatment of this awful parasitic infection. And most dogs certainly don’t mind the prevention – a monthly treat! YUM!