There are two broad categories of worms that may affect our pet dogs and cats, heartworm and intestinal worms. Click here for more information about intestinal worms.
Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a parasite that is spread by mosquitoes and can cause significant health problems to your pet.
Heartworm has a complicated life cycle. Infected dogs have microfilaria circulating in their bloodstream which are microscopic larvae produced by adult heartworm. Microfilariae are picked up by mosquitoes when they bite and feed on the blood of infected dogs. They then mature into larvae in the mosquito and are then passed on to the blood stream of a new animal when bitten. The heartworm larvae migrate through the tissues and into the bloodstream where they can then travel to the heart and lungs. As the worms mature they can cause blockages in the heart and pulmonary arteries. The cycle then continues.
In the early stages of infection there may be no visible signs, however, infection may eventually lead to signs of heart failure (reluctance to exercise, lethargy,coughing) and even death. Heartworm is present throughout most of Australia.
Thankfully, heartworm is very easy to prevent and should form part of your pet health care routine. There are many very effective preventative treatment options available. For dogs we recommend an annual Proheart injection or Nexgard Spectra monthly chews. For cats we recommend Bravecto Plus spot on. If your dog has not been on heartworm prevention we strongly recommend a heartworm test prior to starting a prevention program, followed by a repeat test 6 months after commencing.
Please call us to discuss the best heartworm prevention for your pet.