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Heartworm Cases

Darwin and Sam (fictitious names) are two young dogs owned by two different families with very different histories. One was a young pup just adopted from a “farm” in Ontario, the other came from a rescue in the southern United States. Both appear healthy and happy.
Just weeks apart, both Sam and Darwin presented to Westbridge Veterinary Hospital for their routine check-ups. Our doctors and staff recommended testing for Heartworm disease. The owners understood the potential for the disease in Ontario and agreed that it would be wise to know whether their pets carried the parasite. Unfortunately, both these little dogs tested positive for the disease.

Heartworm is a disease that is carried by mosquitoes. Cats can be affected, but it is a far greater problem in dogs. It made its appearance in Ontario several decades ago, and seems to be here to stay. Small larva are carried in the blood stream, and adult worms grow to maturity in the heart. In the early course of the disease, most dogs don’t show any signs. It may take years, but ultimately affected dogs start to show heart failure as worms literally pack the heart. This interferes with cardiac function and tragically, if undetected, these dogs may die.

Thankfully for the vast majority of our pets, there is something to prevent this. At this time of year we recommend a blood test to detect the condition, and then a medication can be given once a month to help prevent Heartworm, as well as, fleas, mites and many intestinal worms. It is simple, and usually highly effective.

For Darwin and Sam, once they are infected, the treatment is unfortunately more prolonged and serious. It involves several stages of medication, strict rest and constant monitoring. The staff and doctors at Westbridge will be helping them with this over the next year. We look forward to a time when both young dogs will make a full recovery, and wish them both luck.

Consider Heartworm prevention as a kinder alternative to the disease.



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