Posted By Dr Angela Sutherland  
00:00 AM

Heartworm is transferred through mosquito bites, and unfortunately the central highlands has no shortage of Mozzies.

A mosquito will bite an infected dog and with the blood it takes ‘microfilaria’, the juvenile heartworm. It then goes to bite another dog and infects it with the microfilaria. The microfilaria then travel through the bloodstream of the dog until they make their way to the dog’s heart and lungs. Here, they attach to the muscle wall and grow into adult heartworms. Once they are adults they create more microfilaria which spread through the blood stream ready for a mosquito to bite the dog and transfer the microfilaria to yet another dog to begin the lifecycle all over again.

Unfortunately heartworm causes irreversible damage to the heart and lungs of the dog and if they have a large burden, the organs can become overwhelmed with the work load and eventually go into organ failure.

Treatment for heartworm is available, however it is a very long process, it is rather painful for the dog and unfortunately it is a costly process as well. The best option is prevention. This can be done by two methods:

  • Annual Heartworm Prevention Injection: Is a once a year Injection that protects your dog from heartworm by providing a 12 month protection against microfilaria (the active ingredient in the injection kills the microfilaria that are added to the blood stream by mosquitos).
  •   4 weekly tablets: work the same as the annual injection however the active ingredient only lasts for 28 days so the tablets have to be given strictly every 4 weeks otherwise the dog will become susceptible to microfilaria again.

Before going onto any heartworm prevention it is required to complete a heartworm test to ensure that the dog is not already infected with heartworm. This test is done in house, by taking a small sample of blood from the dog, the test takes about 10 minutes to run. If it is a negative result we can go ahead with preventative measures for your dog.

If you are unsure about whether or not your dog is on heartworm prevention or if you are wanting to get them started on prevention, contact our friendly team on 07 4987 6800 and we can check their records or book an appointment to get them started.