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Can Mosquitoes Harm My Pet?

Not only are mosquitoes an annoying pest to our furry friends and us, but they can also actually transmit a parasite called heartworm.

The heartworm parasite (Dirofilaria immitis) is a potentially life-threatening blood-parasite that can be transmitted to your pet through a mosquito bite.

The mosquito acts as an intermediate host to the heartworm parasite. It spreads the parasite by biting and ingesting blood, infected with the offspring (microfilariae) of the heartworm, and then biting another dog, which introduces the microfilariae into their bloodstream. Heartworm disease is more commonly seen where mosquitoes are prevalent, including the southern Great Lakes in Ontario. Heartworm is much more common in dogs, but can still occur in cats.

Adult heartworm lives in the heart, pulmonary arteries and large blood vessels. Microfilariae can be found in small blood vessels and the circulating bloodstream. It can take several years to see clinical signs of an infection. Common symptoms include a dry cough, shortness of breath, weakness etc., particularly following exercise. The heartworm parasite clogs blood vessels and therefore blocks blood supply to organs, resulting in damage.

A simple blood test can be performed by your Veterinarian to diagnose this disease. Pets born after November of that year should be tested because the heartworm takes 5-7 months to mature and become detected by the test. The test should then be performed annually in the springtime.

There are now several types and forms of heartworm prevention available. Depending on whether your pet has any allergies and personal preference, topical and oral preventatives can be used. Talk to us today if you have any questions or concerns about testing and prevention for heartworm!

Written by Briarwood Animal Hospital

Source: Life-Learn “Heartworm Disease in Dogs”

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Last updated: December 21, 2020

Dear Clients,

With recent changes to restrictions on businesses, have made some important updates to our operating policies.

1. WE CAN NOW SEE ALL CASES BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

This includes vaccines, wellness exams, blood work, heartworm testing, spays and neuters, dental services, and more!

2. SAFETY MEASURES TO KEEP EVERYONE SAFE

3. ONLINE CONSULTATIONS ARE AVAILABLE

If you wish to connect with a veterinarian via message, phone or video, visit our website and follow the "Online Consultation" link.

4. NEW PET OWNERS

Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

5. OPERATING HOURS

We are OPEN with the following hours:

- Monday to Friday: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
- Saturday: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
- Sunday: CLOSED

Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

- Your dedicated team at Briarwood Animal Hospital