What is Heartworm disease?
Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a very common parasitic disease of dogs in Hong Kong, especially the New Territories. The worm lives in the major blood vessels in the lungs and heart.
How does my dog get infected?
The Life cycle starts with a mosquito biting an infected dog and sucking up baby heartworm (microfilaria). The baby heartworm develops in the mosquito salivary glands for a period of time before being transferred to another dog. The developing heartworm will eventually migrate to the heart and lung blood vessels where they affect the circulation and heart function. It is not uncommon for pet’s to have 30 – 40 adult worms present.
What are the symptoms?
Heartworm is dangerous because the disease is often advanced before symptoms develop. Your dog may have heartworm and appear completely normal until it is too late.
Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, poor appetite, weight loss, exercise intolerance and sometimes an enlarged abdomen.
How is it diagnosed?
Your vet will suspect Heartworm based on the pet’s history, physical exam and symptoms. A simple blood test is used to confirm heartworm presence.
Can it be treated?
This depends on the stage of the disease. The best chance of survival is if the disease is detected before symptoms develop. In advanced cases there can be serious damage to the heart, lungs and other organs such as the liver and kidneys.
Our clinic uses a combination of drugs to treat the disease.
PREVENTION IS BEST!
The best way to keep your dog safe from Heartworm is to use one of the preventative treatments available. We suggest your puppy starts heartworm prevention from the second or third vaccination.
- A monthly oral chewable (Heartgard plus)
- Revolution – a monthly spot on product
- Proheart – SR12 a yearly injection
Our staff will be pleased to advise you on the most suitable product for your pet’s needs.