PET HEARTWORM TEST
Choose Us for Pet Heartworm Tests in Toronto
Heartworm disease is a serious illness that can affect dogs and cats alike—resulting in severe lung disease, heart failure, organ damage, and even death. Our professional veterinary staff at Bellamy Lawrence Animal Hospital in Toronto encourage preventive heartworm testing so that your pet is treated as soon as possible. In the event that your pet has contracted heartworm disease, rest assured that our veterinarians are clinical experts in treating the illness and getting your pet back to full health.
WHAT IS HEARTWORM DISEASE AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis which is spread through the bite of a mosquito, causing Dirofilariasis—an infection by parasites. It is most common in dogs but can also occur in cats and ferrets. The mosquito is the intermediate host, meaning that the worms live inside a mosquito for a short transition period in order to become infective (able to cause heartworm disease). The worms are called “heartworms” because the adults live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of an infected animal.
The pet is the definitive host, meaning that the worms mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring while living inside the animal.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEARTWORM DISEASE
While there are definitive signs in advanced heartworm disease, a dog or cat may appear healthy on the outside, but on the inside, heartworms may be living and thriving.
There are four classes, or stages, of heartworm disease:
*Not all animals with heartworm disease develop Caval syndrome. However, if left untreated, heartworm disease will progress and damage the animal’s heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, eventually causing death.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HEARTWORM TESTING AND PREVENTION
Our professional veterinary staff at Bellamy Lawrence Animal Hospital encourages starting heartworm testing on dogs once they are 7 months old and then once a year after that. *Please discuss your heartworm concerns for your cats with our veterinarians as prevention and treatment differs from dogs.
Our veterinarians take blood tests to check for heartworms in your pets. An antigen test detects specific heartworm proteins, which are released by adult female heartworms into the animal’s bloodstream. Another test detects microfilariae in a dog’s bloodstream. Microfilariae in the bloodstream indicate that the dog is infected with adult heartworms (because only adult heartworms can mate and produce microfilariae).
Many products are FDA-approved to prevent heartworms in dogs and cats, but should not be given without pre-testing first. Most products are given monthly either as a topical liquid applied on the skin or as an oral tablet. Both chewable and non-chewable oral tablets are available. Another option is to inject a preventative medicine under the skin every 6 or 12 months. We firmly believe that the injection of a preventative medicine is the best option for your pet to keep them safe from heartworm disease. Contact us to discuss your dog or cats heartworm prevention plan in further detail!