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Heartworm Testing for Pets

Heartworms can create life-threatening health concerns for your pet. Prolonged infection can cause damage to your pet’s internal organs, including heart failure and lung disease. Early detection of this fatal disease means your pet has a better chance of recovering from heartworms.

How might my pet get heartworms?

Pets can get infected with heartworms via a mosquito bite. After the larvae have made their way into your pet’s body, it can take up to 6 months for it to grow into an adult heartworm. They can live inside your pet for up to 7 years, growing between 4 to 12 inches. Pets can be infected with multiple heartworms, at least 15. Pets who have recently been infected or have a small amount of heartworms, might be less likely to show symptoms. Symptoms you might look out for are a constant cough, difficulty breathing or unexplained tiredness.

How do you test for heartworms?

Bloodwork will be done to test your pet for heartworms. It usually takes 5-6 months since your pet was first infected for the test to detect them. You should get your pet tested if they’re starting a new heartworm preventive, if you’ve recently visited an area prone to heartworms or if you forgot to give them their preventive medicine on time. It’s helpful to have your pet tested regularly. If your pet is due for their annual test, please contact us to book an appointment at 902.865.6400.

How can I prevent an infection?

The best way to prevent heartworms is to give your pet their monthly preventive, as prescribed. They’re available in a topical cream or injection. Oral tablets come in chewable or non-chewable form while injections are given by our veterinary team every 6 to 12 months. It’s important you ensure your pet closely follows their preventive schedule, helping to give them full protection against this parasite. Infected pets face a long road to recovery, which might include surgery, injections and other procedures. Prevention is better than cure!

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