Heartworm is a serious and potentially deadly parasite infection that causes severe damage to the heart and lungs. Dogs get heartworm when they are bitten by a mosquito that is carrying an immature life stage of the worm. The mosquito transfers the larvae to the dog, where it grows and travels through the blood vessels, usually ending up in the heart or lungs. In New Brunswick, we do not have an endemic problem with heartworms. However, if you plan on travelling outside the province with your dog, you should contact your veterinarian and discuss the preventive medication that is right for you.
What are the symptoms of heartworm in a dog?
Heartworm causes coughing, fainting, exercise intolerance, anemia, and in severe cases, it will cause heart failure.
How do dogs get heartworm?
Dogs get heartworm when they are bitten by an infected mosquito.
What are the treatment options for heartworm?
In severely affected dogs, hospitalization is required while a medication is given to kill any adult worms living inside the heart. Monthly prevention can be administered at home.
Why is recovery and heartworm treatment challenging?
Treating heartworm is a challenge, as the adult worms live inside the heart. When they are killed, the worms can still cause blockages in blood vessels and prevent the heart from pumping effectively. This potential blockage can cause heart failure. While recovering, it is important that the dogs stay in a kennel to rest for several weeks.