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Heartworm in Dogs


How Do Dogs Get Heartworm?


The heartworm cycle begins when a mosquito bites an infected dog. The mosquito ingests the blood containing tiny larvae, called microfilariae, and develops the larvae further. The mosquito then deposits the now-infected larvae into another dog the next time it feeds.

What Does Heartworm Disease Looks Like?

The infected larvae mature slowly over six months until they reach full adult size, which can be up to 30cm long. The worms attached to the walls of major blood vessels, increasing the heart’s workload and restricting bloodflow to the lungs, kidneys and liver.


Many dogs with heartworm have no obvious symptoms. Visible symptoms may take as long as a year or more to appear when much of the damage has already been done. Dogs with severe heartworm infestations have a cough and are clearly unwell. Sudden death can also occur.


How Vets Diagnose Heartworm?

Many dogs with heartworm are found during routine blood screening. An instant answer can be gained with a few drops of blood in an in-clinic test. If the test is positive, we will need to investigate further and further blood tests and X-rays may be required.


Is Heartworm In Adelaide?

Yes. Thankfully many dogs are on Heartworm prevention, so the number of cases see is very low, however, dogs with heartworm are still found throughout Adelaide.


Can Heartworm Be Treated?

Yes, but treatment is risky, difficult and costly.


How is Heartworm Prevented?

ProHeart SR-12 is a yearly injection that takes away the need for you to remember a monthly treatment.  


Other heartworm preventions are either a liquid applied to the skin or a monthly tablet.


The good news is that veterinary heartworm preventions work very, very well.


Important: Not all preventions are the same and some can also be dangerous for certain breeds of dogs or if your dog is already Heartworm positive. Please consult your vet before starting or switching preventions.


If you have any questions or concerns about heartworm, please feel free to reach out to us at any time at Pets Health Veterinary Practices.



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Pets Health is a full service animal hospital with clinics located in Hilton and O’Halloran Hill. We are dedicated to helping you keep your best mate happy and healthy through each stage of their life with compassionate and reassuring veterinary care.

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O’Halloran Hill Vet Centre

123 Main South Road
O’Halloran Hill, SA 5158

Hilton Vet Centre

142 Sir Donald Bradman Drive
Hilton, SA 5033