Heartworm is a worm found in the heart and the large blood vessels of the lungs. The female worm can grow to 35cm in length and the male worm to 15cm on length. An infected dog can have up to 300 worms living inside their body.
The worm can live up to 5 years and produces huge number of young (larvae) and the dog can have millions of these young larvae circulating around their body at any one time. These young are called microfilaria and cannot develop into adults without being sucked up by a mosquito where they then continue their stage of development before being injected back into a dog when they can start to develop into adults and the cycle restarts.
Adult worms cause problems by clogging the heart and the blood vessels of the lungs. They cause the valves of the heart to stop functioning properly they cause the blood to accumulate in the liver, they cause blood supply around lungs to become sluggish, they cause fluid to accumulate in the lungs and generally they reduce the blood flow to the liver and kidneys. They will lead to either debilitation or death of the animal.
Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes – in fact the “mozzy” is so important as an intermediary host that if we could wipe out all the mosquitoes then heartworm itself would cease to exist.
As we are all aware – the chance of being bitten by a mosquito is infinitely high and therefore the possibility of dogs becoming infected by the heartworm larvae is also very high.
Heartworm is an insidious problem in the Bundaberg and surrounding areas. There are huge numbers of dogs – both wild and domestic – that have an active heartworm infection. Therefore the reservoir of heartworm is high and the chances of spread are also very high.
It is therefore very important that all dogs are given preventative methods to stop them getting this deadly parasite.
I think every caring owner in our area is aware that their dogs need to be on heartworm prevention.
Up to now the only way to prevent heartworm was to use a tablet (daily or monthly) or liquid “spot-on” which is applied to the skin of the dog.
The tablets or liquid are very safe but there were always some major problems with the use of these products.
- They had to be given on a regular basis – they needed to be given every day or every month. A lot of owners forget to give the medication and consequently the animal becomes infected. In fact a lot of owners become confused about when they have given the medication or assume someone else has given the medication.
- Some animals will not allow their owner to give any medication orally and therefore these animals often became infected and died or needed expensive treatment.
- The liquid spot-ons are expensive.
HELP HAS ARRIVED – a company has successfully developed an injection that can be given by your veterinary surgeon that will prevent your dog from getting heartworm for a year.
No more fighting with the dog, no more saliva stains on the clothes, no more putting marks on the calendar, no more making sure the animal had swallowed its medicine, no more getting concerned whether you had forgotten to give the medication or not.
One injection that prevents your dog from getting heartworm for 12 months – it doesn’t get any easier or more convenient than that.
The other good news is that it is generally less expensive than using monthly tablets for a year.
So everyone is a winner – the dog is covered for a year against heartworm, the owner saves money and the owner no longer needs to remember to give the preventative medication.
Dogs that are under the age of 6 months when the injection is given – the injection only works of 6 months and then the dog can get its “yearly” injection when they turn 9 months of age. It is all to do with developing body and adult weight.
This injection is NOT a vaccination but is a depot of a preventative medication delivered under the skin that is slowly released over 12 months. The injection is given in accordance with the adult weight of the dog and the adult skin surface area.
We recommend the use of some form of heartworm prevention and we recommend to all our clients to consider the use of the heartworm injection.
For an appointment or for more information on heartworm – please ring 4153 1399 (Bundaberg) or 4159 1009 (Bargara) or make an appointment online.