What is the heartworm?
Heartworms are a blood parasite that’s transmitted through mosquitoes. Microscopic baby worms called microfilariae infiltrate the blood circulation when a mosquito bites your pet. Microfilariae will circulate through blood vessels, until they’ve reached maturity at 7 or 8 months. Once they’ve reached adulthood, worms will settle in the heart, ressembling long spaghetti noodles.
The greater the number of worms, the higher the risk of developing cardiac symptoms like cough, intolerance to exercise and excessive panting. With cats, a single adult worm can set off the aforementioned symptoms. Thankfully, cats are rarely affected by heartworms, and seem to be more resistant.
Animals that are affected by heartworms can be treated in different ways, depending on how many are present, the gravity of the symptoms and the presence of microfilariae in their bloodstream. Treatments can vary from sterilizing adult worms through medication, to heart surgery that manually removes said worms.
It’s possible to prevent heartworms by administering monthly preventive medication during the summer months. Many products are available on the market, and we’ll gladly talk you through the various options and what would be best for your pet. Please note that before beginning treatment, a blood test must be conducted in order to confirm that your pet doesn’t already have this disease. If this were the case, administering preventive medication could cause embolia or anaphylactic shock.
As with any preventive medication, it’s best to conduct screenings every 2 years, for animals that are under regular preventive treatment. This parasite is more and more present in southern Quebec and we believe preventive treatment is imperative for your pet’s health and safety!