Just the word “heartworm” can give someone the heebie jeebies! As pet owners, you probably get the run down from your veterinarian about the importance of heartworm prevention and what you can do. April is “Heartworm Awareness Month” so we wanted to give you 10 facts about heartworm that you may not know!
- Heartworm is spread through the bite of a mosquito. It is not contagious and can only be caught through an infected mosquito bite.
- If not fatal, heartworm disease can cause long-lasting damage. The heart, lungs and arteries are affected from the disease and can affect the quality of life even after the parasite is gone.
- It can take up to 6-7 months for an infected larvae to mature into an adult heartworm. The adult heartworms mate and release their offspring into the dog’s bloodstream.
- Heartworm can be found across Canada. However, the majority of Canadian cases are found in Ontario, specifically southern Ontario.
- Signs of heartworm in a dog can be coughing, lack of energy, lethargy, weight loss, and difficulty breathing.
- To test for heartworm, a vet does a blood test in the springtime to see if the dog contracted heartworm the season before.
- The lifespan of a heartworm inside a dog is 5-7 years.
- Male heartworm are 4 to 6 inches in length, and females are 10-12 inches. They resemble “cooked spaghetti”.
- The number of worms living inside an infected dog is called “worm burden”. On average, the number of heartworms in a dog is 15, but it can range anywhere from 1-250.
- Both dogs and cats can have heartworm.