We remain open to provide care for your pets. We are following the direction of government and regulatory authorities and have implemented hospital and visit protocols to keep both you and our team safe. For regular updates on our hours and visit protocols, please follow our social media platforms.


Heartworm Disease in Cats

Most commonly affecting our canine patients, heartworm Dirofilaria immitis is a parasite that is carried from mosquitos. It is transferred via a bite into the bloodstream, where stage three larvae circulate and mature into adult worms that live in the right side of the heart and pulmonary artery. However, cats are not the definitive host, and therefore the parasite cannot complete its lifecycle, dying in the tissue or migrating to abnormal places.

The clinical signs are very vague and non-specific which may include lethargy, anorexia or weight loss. Some cats develop vomiting, coughing and dyspnea (difficulty breathing). Heart murmurs, fluid build-up in the chest or abdomen, seizures or other nervous system abnormality are seen in more serious cases. Sudden death can also occur in some instances.

The infection is difficult to diagnose; therefore the actual rate of infection cannot be determined. A variety of testing is done to help diagnose heartworm. Blood work, radiographs, and echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart) as well as an antibody test to detect early stages of infection. An antigen test may detect the presence of adult worms in progressed cases. A complete blood count may reveal eosinophilia (high eosinophil count) or high globulin level.

Medications to kill the adult heartworms given to dogs are not usually given to cats because of the serious and potentially fatal complications that can follow some treatment. The lives of adult heartworm are short-lived in the cat; infection is generally self-limiting and can resolve spontaneously. In this way, treatment is usually targeting the inflammation triggered by worms in the lungs, and bronchodilators to help the cat breathe. Hospitalization may be indicated for further care.

Preventatives are available for cats and should be used in areas at risk of infection. In Canada, most cases are reported in southern Ontario, southern Manitoba, and southern Quebec. The risk is higher when there is an average daily temperature of more than 18°C for 14 days consecutively. Please talk to your veterinarian about a preventative program for your cat!

Written by: Briarwood Animal Hospital

Life Learn handout, April 2019.



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COVID-19: Additional measures we are taking

Dear Clients,

Due to the close contact that our work requires, we have taken additional measures to protect you and our team while providing care for your furry family members.

The following changes are effective as of Wednesday, March 18, 2020:

1. We are currently operating a "closed waiting room" policy to protect our clients and staff. When you arrive, please remain in your vehicle and use your cell phone to call us at 905-664-4888. We will bring your pet into the hospital for an examination with the veterinarian. The veterinarian will then call you to discuss our recommended treatment plan. After your appointment, a technician will return your pet to your car and take care of any needed medications and payment.

2. We are continuing to accept appointments for urgent or sick pets, as well as time-sensitive puppy/kitten vaccinations. All other services will be scheduled for a later time. However, if you're unsure whether your pet needs medical attention, please call us to discuss your situation.

3. We are still OPEN with the following hours: Monday to Friday 8 am - 4 pm

4. If you are ordering food or medications, please allow 2-4 business days as our suppliers are dealing with increased demand and are trying to fill orders as quickly as possible. We will advise you as soon as your order arrives. Please call us when you arrive to pick up your order, but do not enter the hospital. Our staff will bring your order to your car. You can also use our online store and have your food delivered directly to your home. To sign up for the Online Store, please visit our website.

5. For the time being, we are not accepting cash as payment. Credit cards and debit card payments are still available.

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

Following the recommendations of our government and medical experts, we are doing our best to practice social distancing within the constraints of our jobs. We have taken these measures to avoid both contracting and facilitating the spread of this disease.

Thank you for helping us be diligent for everyone's safety. As we have heard from all levels of government, the situation is fluid, and any updates will be provided as changes occur.

- Your dedicated team at Briarwood Animal Hospital