Heartworms are parasitic worms that can spread and grow in the bloodstream, often localizing around the heart and lungs. Heartworms cause serious disease and can even lead to mortality. Mosquitoes are the vectors of heartworm and can transmit these worms to your dog when they bite. Luckily, heartworm is not common in Alberta, but can be common in other areas around Canada, including British Columbia. Check with one of our veterinarians before travelling to see if your dog could be at risk.
If a dog has heartworms, what symptoms should I look for?
Heartworm disease, like many other diseases, can range from mild to severe in health risk. In the initial stages of infection, dogs can be asymptomatic. As the worms grow and multiply symptoms begin to reflect many of the same symptoms as heart disease. Often in the late stages of heartworm disease dogs present with coughing, lethargy and intolerance to exercise.
What are the treatment options for heartworms?
The best treatment for heartworm is good prevention. Here at the Airdrie Animal Health Centre, we have a variety of products that can help protect your pet from being at risk of contracting heartworm disease. If you have entered an area where your pet was at risk of getting heartworm, you can still treat your pet within one month of exposure to easily eliminate heartworm from your dog’s body. Once your pet has been diagnosed with heartworm and becomes symptomatic, treatment options become more aggressive and difficult.