Dog Heartworm Test

Dog Heartworm Test

Heartworm Disease in dogs is a parasite that is transmitted through a bite from an infected mosquito. It takes approximately 7 months for the larvae to mature into adults at which time the worms lodge themselves in the heart, lungs and the blood vessels surrounding these structures. The adult worms can grow up to 12 inches long and can survive for 5-7 years. Symptoms include a cough, inability to exercise, fever, poor hair coat and in severe cases abnormal lung sounds can be heard. If heartworm disease is left untreated in dogs, they will die. Diagnosis is established through a simple blood test. Heartworm prevention is much less expensive than treatment and is as easy as giving a treat once a month.

If a dog has heartworms, what symptoms should I look for?

There usually aren’t any symptoms initially. As the worms mature and take up more space in the heart, lungs and blood vessels, the dog can develop a cough, the inability to exercise as they will become short of breath, fever, poor hair coat and in severe cases they will have abnormal lung sounds upon auscultation.

How does a dog get heartworms?

Heartworm is contracted through a bite from an infected mosquito. It is the ONLY way that heartworm can be transmitted. It is not contagious from animal to animal. Heartworms cannot complete their life cycle in humans, and therefore it would be rare for the worms to be found in humans.

What are the treatment options for heartworms?

The best and safest way to treat an animal with heartworm is to start with bloodwork and radiographs. It helps to determine the severity of the disease. There are a few different options for treatment, but all of these are injectable and must be given multiple times to kill the adult worms.

Why is recovery for heartworm treatment so challenging?

The treatment of heartworm can take several months to complete. Once your pet’s overall health has been assessed, treatment can begin. It will start with a series of injections that will kill the adult worms. These worms will die and dissolve over time. After this, treatment involves killing the microfilariae, which are the baby heartworms. During the entire process, it is critical, for the survival of your pet, to keep them as quiet as possible. It involves restraining to a kennel or small area in your house and only taking them out on a leash to urinate and defecate. In some cases, they may have to be hospitalized. Too much movement while the worms are being killed can cause the worms to move around the body and clog up arteries causing death.


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Last updated: August 20, 2021

McKnight Veterinary Hospital is committed to doing everything possible to combat the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

As part of this commitment, effective immediately, McKnight Veterinary Hospital will be instituting the following precautionary protocol to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

For the safety of yourself, our staff, and the community, clients will not be allowed to enter the building.

NOTICE: Our hours of operation have changed. We sincerely appreciate your patience, kindness and understanding during this time. 

Urgent care services are available 24 hours a day from Sunday to Wednesday. Unavailable after-hours/overnight Thursday to Saturday. 
Walk-in clinic is open Monday to Friday from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm. 
Saturdays, we are open from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm for food and prescription pick-ups only. 

For urgent care/emergency outside of our hours, please contact:

1. Fish Creek Hospital (403) 873-1700
2. Western Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Centre (403) 770 -1340
3. VCA Canada CARE Centre (403) 520-8387
4. Southern Alberta Veterinary Emergency (403) 995-3270

For non urgent care, contact:

1. Edgemont Veterinary Clinic (403) 239-4657
2. Airdrie Animal Clinic (403) 948-3619


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.

Reminder: Wait times are very long so please be patient with us as we do our best to accommodate everyone. Polite and courteous treatment of staff is required. We are trying our best to provide care for your pets. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

- Your McKnight Veterinary Team