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.
The most common type of intestinal worms are roundworms and hookworms. They live and grow inside the intestine of your pet, developing from egg into larvae (immature worms), then into adults. Dogs and cats of any age may contract intestinal parasites, but are most vulnerable when they are very young and when they catch and consume rodents.
Roundworms are often transmitted from mother to puppy (or kitten) before birth, or shortly thereafter while nursing. The eggs may also be ingested from feces or in their surroundings (contaminated soil, sand, plant life or other objects).
Hookworms are transmitted similarly or the larvae can burrow through the skin when in contact with the environment.
Most dogs and cats do not always show signs of infection of these worms, although some possible signs might be diarrhea and/or pot belly. They may only show evidence of these parasites in their feces on a microscopic level.
Hookworms and roundworms are both considered zoonotic diseases, meaning that they can be passed from our pets to us. It is therefore very important to make sure that at risk pets are dewormed regularly.
These intestinal parasites can be diagnosed by a microscopic evaluation of the feces, this is why we recommend that you bring a fresh fecal sample with you for your pet’s annual physical examination.
The tapeworm parasite infects our pets through the consumption of either rodents or fleas. When out pets groom themselves and accidentally ingest fleas they can become infected with the parasite, or they can become infected by hunting and then ingesting their prey.
The most common sign of this parasite is the appearance of segments (which look like grains of rice) on the feces, or occasionally on the coat of the hind quarters of our pets.
The prevention of fleas and rodent hunting will help prevent infection with this parasite.
Treatment for this parasite is available.