Heartworm is a parasite that is carried and transferred by mosquitoes, and is therefore a threat to our pets in areas where there are mosquitoes. This is a parasite that lives in the bloodstream of animals and matures in the heart as an adult worm. These parasites mainly affect dogs, but have also rarely been found in cats.
The cycle begins when a mosquito bites a heartworm infected dog and picks up microfilaria (immature heartworms) which circulate in an infected dog’s blood stream. The infected mosquito then bites an unprotected dog, passing on the microfilaria. Once inside the heart, the microfilaria matures into adult worms which can grow up to 35 cm long, thus causing significant damage to the heart and lungs. An affected animal may develop coughing, breathing problems and weight loss.
If left untreated, heartworm can cause severe heart damage and can be fatal. It is therefore important to protect your dog by following a preventive protocol during the months when mosquitoes are present. Please ask us for advice about protecting your pet from this disease.