Heartworm in Dogs

Heartworm infestation in dogs can be fatal. It is a parasite transmitted by mosquitoes and so transmission does not require direct contact between dogs.  Because of the role of mosquitoes in the spread of this disease it is only prevalent in certain areas of Australia and is more likely in dogs that spend some time outdoors. In this part of south east Queensland, Heartworm Disease is a risk for dogs. Almost every dog in this area spends at least some time outdoors even if it is only to go to the toilet.

A dog can be infected with heartworm with or without showing any signs. Signs, if they are present, can include a cough, exercise intolerance, fainting and ascites (a fluid filled abdomen). Sudden death is also possible without significant warning signs. Some of these signs are due to congestive heart failure as a result of the heartworm infestation.

Detection of heartworm involves collection of blood from the dog and then a 10 minute test run in the clinic. If it is positive treatment for the disease is available depending on the health of the dog.

Prevention of Heartworm infection is a much better option. There are several options for prevention including monthly or yearly medications. Monthly options include products applied to the skin or medications given by mouth. The option to protect against Heartworm Disease annually (once a dog is adult) is an injection of Proheart SR12 which is based on the dog’s weight.