Faqs About Heartworm In Pets

In Australia, heartworm in dogs is considered endemic in some areas.

Here are a few frequently asked questions about heartworm along with answers.

Q: First Off: What is Heartworm?
A: Heartworm is an internal parasite that can infect animals, including cats and dogs.

Q: Is Heartworm Dangerous?
Yes. It can lead to lung disease, organ damage, heart failure and even death.

Q: How Does Heartworm Infection Occur?
A: Mosquitoes are intermediate hosts. When a mosquito carrying the disease bites an animal, the mosquito transmits miniscule heartworm larvae into the animal’s bloodstream. From there, they make their way to the heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels.

Q: How Big is an Adult Heartworm?
A: Adults can grow up to 30 cm in length and survive 5 to 7 years

Q: How Does the Cycle of Infection Continue?
A: First, adults living inside an infected animal mate. Then, they give live birth to larvae. These larvae enter that animal’s bloodstream. When a mosquito bites this animal, larvae are transmitted to the mosquito. This mosquito can start the cycle again by biting the next animal.

Q: What are the Signs of Heartworm Disease?
A: Signs and symptoms vary. If the infection is light, there may be no signs. Signs of heavy infection include weight loss, poor haircoat, exercise intolerance, coughing and fever. Heartworm disease can lead to severe heart, kidney, liver and lung problems and even death.

Q: Can You Test for Heartworm?
A: Yes. Your veterinarian will recommend a blood test and further testing if they think it’s necessary.

Q: Is heartworm a Problem Year-round?
A: In some areas, heartworm is a threat year-round and many sources recommended the administration of preventative medications accordingly.

Q: What are the High-risk areas in Australia?
A: Heartworm is found in numerous locations across Australia and it’s even endemic in some areas. In fact, it’s very prevalent in Queensland (particularly Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast) and the Northern Territory (particularly Darwin). In addition, studies have shown that about 9% of foxes in Sydney and surrounds and about 7% in Melbourne and surrounds carry heartworm. This means city pets in those areas are at risk.

Q: What Should I Do to Keep My Dog Save from Heartworm?
A: Talk to your veterinarian about the best preventative medication for your dog. It’s easier, cheaper and much less stressful to prevent heartworm disease in dogs than it is to cure it.

Q: Can Heartworm Disease be Cured?
A: Treatment is available, but can be costly. For safety reasons, it’s vital to confirm diagnosis before proceeding with treatment. During and after treatment dogs should rest and not exercise for a period.

Q: Can Cats Become Infected with Heartworms?
A: Yes. Signs include coughing, asthma-like attacks, vomiting, lack of appetite and weight loss. Some even struggle to walk, faint or get seizures. Talk to your veterinarian about a broad-spectrum, spot-on solution that fights various worms in cats, including heartworm.

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