Heartworm disease has negative effects on your pet’s health, including causing complications like lung disease, heart disease and damage to other organs. Adult heartworms live in your pet’s hearts, lungs or blood vessels and can grow to at least one foot long. Heartworm testing is important for your pet because the effects of heartworm disease are life-threatening and harmful to their overall health.
How does it affect canine friends?
Heartworms enjoy living inside dogs because they’re natural hosts. They can often live an entire lifecycle inside your pup, maturing into adult worms before mating and multiplying. Imagine your dog hosting hundreds of unwanted guests inside them at a time! If left untreated, heartworms can cause long term, irreparable damage to your pet and affects their ability to live their best life. Though medication is available to treat heartworm disease, prevention is better than cure. So, it’s important to have your pet on a preventive medication, if they’re not already.
How does it affect feline friends?
Heartworms aren’t as fond of your cat’s hosting abilities. Most don’t live long enough inside them to become mature adult worms. Though they are not typical hosts, this doesn’t mean your pet is immune from an infection. Even though they might not be fully developed inside your cat, they can still cause serious damage to their internal systems, including Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD), a lung condition. Since heartworm disease medication isn’t currently available for cats, the best way to protect them is with the help of preventive medication.
When do you recommend testing?
All pets should be heartworm tested before starting preventive medication. A negative result means you can safely start your pet’s oral or topical medication. Also, our veterinary team might recommend testing if your pet is experiencing symptoms like tiredness, constant coughing, loss of appetite and shying away from exercise. One thing to note is signs might not manifest in the early stages of the disease so keep an eye out over time and share any differences you are noticing in your pet. If you have questions or concerns about testing, please contact our team at 519.624.9760.