Heartworm prevention

Meet Zephyr, a 5 year old German shorthaired pointer who recently came to the clinic for his yearly heartworm injection.

Heartworm (dirofilaria immitis) is a parasite that, if not treated, can be fatal. Luckily it’s not very common in our canine companions due to the preventative medications available and the diligence of most owners.

Heartworm is spread when mosquitoes bite dogs already infected with heartworm and have the immature larvae (microfilariae) running through their blood. The mosquitoes then bite healthy dogs and transfer the larvae into their bloodstream.

These larvae migrate through the body and over 6 months will grow into adults and settle in the heart and bloods vessels of the lungs. They can cause blockage and inflammation of these vessels and damage organs like the heart, lungs and liver. An adult heartworm can be up to 30cm long.

Luckily it can be diagnosed quite simply via a blood test. The test only takes around 15 minutes and can be done during your consult.

Prevention is achieved by monthly tablets or a yearly injection. Feel free to give us a call to discuss what option is best for your pet.

By Emily Burton, 5th Year Veterinary Student, The University of Sydney

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