How is it spread?
The Heartworm larvae is spread by mosquito bites. If a mosquito sucks blood from an infected animal and then feeds from your dog or cat, it may become infected.
Why is it dangerous?
Heartworms interrupt blood flow and can cause congestive heart failure (CHF), or sudden death. Heartworm disease is difficult to treat and can become very costly with complex and risky surgery to remove the worms.
Is my pet at risk?
We are very lucky in the Snowy Mountains that heartworm infection does not naturally occur here. This is because the mosquitos that carry the immature worms are not prevalent in our region.
Pets that travel to coastal areas, Queensland, northern and inland NSW, or central Victoria are at risk and should receive preventative medication. Travel to South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory also exposes animals to heartworm infection and they should be protected.
How to prevent infection
ProHeart is a once-a-year injection for dogs which slowly releases medication to ensure any worms that are transmitted infected with are killed as larvae before they can cause disease.
Monthly tablets containing an active ingredient effective against heartworm are an effective way to stop infection. Monthly treatments will only kill developed heartworm so have to be given for at least 3 months after any potential exposure (such as going to the coast).
Because treatment can be dangerous in an already infected pet, we will sometimes need to do a blood test to ensure that there is no heartworm before we start preventative medication.