Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

What are heartworms?

Heartworms are 6 to 14 inch long worms that live in the heart of a dog. Dogs become infected when bitten by a mosquito carrying the heartworm larvae. Heartworm infection can lead to life threatening heart failure. Ottawa area does have dogs that test positive each year for adult heartworm infection. Since transmission is by a mosquito, direct dog to dog contact is not required. Although dogs are the primary host, occasionally cats become infected as well. The best treatment is to prevent infection in the first place. Prevention involves using a heartworm medication (usually monthly) during the mosquito season which is June1st to November 1st in the Ottawa area. Preventatives work by killing the larval stages that your pet has become infected with over the preceding month. Since a different drug is required to treat adult heartworm infections, all dogs should be tested on a regular basis to identify and then treat any breakthrough heartworm infections.

Several products are currently on the market for prevention of heartworm infection. Products range from treating only heartworm and intestinal parasites to those that also treat for fleas, ticks and mites. Consult with your veterinarian to determine which product meets the needs or you and your pet's particular life style. Products are available to treat either dogs or cats.