ExcelVets Robina

237 Scottsdale Dr
Robina Qld 4226
Phone: 07 5562 5777
Fax: 07 5562 5522

Business Hours

8:00 - 5:30 Mon - Fri
8:30 - 11:30 Sat

After Hours Emergency

07 5559 1599


Heartworm Disease

What is heartworm disease?

Heartworm is a disease that is spread by mosquitoes. As mosquitoes inhabit a large part of Australia, most dogs are at risk of contracting the disease.

Unfortunately if your pet contracts heartworm disease it has the potential to cause heart failure and death. Dogs are the most common host for heartworms and although it is rare, cats can also be infected.

What are the symptoms of heartworm disease?

Some symptoms of heartworm disease include :

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Listlessness
  • Weight loss
  • Rough hair coat

How can your pet contract heartworm disease?

It may only take a single bite from a mosquito to infect your dog. Mosquitoes ingest microfilaria (baby heartworms) while sucking blood from infected dogs. These carrier mosquitoes can then infect healthy dogs while sucking their blood.

The baby worms then travel towards the heart, taking 6-7 months to mature to adult worms. Adult worms look like a 10 cm piece of string and live in the right chamber of the heart where they cause damage. These adult worms produce offspring which circulate in the animal blood, and the whole cycle starts again.

If you miss the monthly dose when using monthly products, then the larvae moults and proceeds to the next stage where the product is ineffective, thereby these larve then go on to develop into adult heartworm in the heart.

heartworm lifecycle

How do we know if our dog has been infected with heartworm?

In the early stages of heartworm infection, there are usually no obvious signs of the disease. Fortunately though, there is a simple blood test available that can detect the presence of heartworm. This blood test takes 10 mins and is done at ExcelVets.

Can we treat heartworm disease?

The good news is that many dogs infected with heartworm disease can be treated with a drug that kills off both adult heartworm and their offspring. The bad news is that considerable damage may have already been done to the heart and the associated arteries, depending. So as with most things, prevention is better than cure!!

How do we prevent heartworm disease?

The safest and best way to prevent your pet from contracting heartworm disease is to put them on to a preventative medication for the duration of their life, starting at 3 months old. There is a variety of great options available for preventing heartworm infection. These include:

  • A once a year heartworm injection which can be given at the same time as their annual health check and vaccination.  The advantage of this injection is that it takes away the risk of forgetting to give them their medication. Surveys have indicated that most people only remember 6/12 months per year.
  • Monthly spot-ons, on the back of the neck
  • Monthly chewable or flavoured tablet

Preventative medications are extremely effective and when administered correctly, can completely prevent your pet from contracting heartworm.

It is important to realise that if you have missed or forgotten to give your pet the regular heartworm prevention, you should book in for a blood test immediately, to detect for the presence of heartworm in the blood.

Remember prompt detection prevents long term, needless suffering!