Heartworm disease is transmitted from dog to dog by mosquitoes. After a bite from an infected mosquito, heartworm larvae (Dirofilaria immitis) migrate through the tissue. After three months, they enter the bloodstream and end up in the pulmonary artery. Left untreated, larvae can grow into adult worms in just over six months. Adult heartworms can be up to 30cm long and live in the heart and blood vessels of the lungs, interfering with circulation and damaging tissues. This may eventually cause heart failure, and if left untreated, heartworm in dogs can be fatal.
Heartworm disease is highly prevalent in Australia. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that not all dogs are treated with a heartworm preventative and unmedicated dogs can act as a reservoir for the disease in the community. The second is that the disease can also maintain itself within a community cycling through a wide variety of native animals.
Dogs rarely show immediate signs of heartworm infection as the adult worms take six to seven months to develop from larvae transmitted by a mosquito bite. The signs of heartworm disease in dogs will depend on the severity of the infection, plus the health, activity level and size of your pet.
All dogs should be tested for heartworm infection before starting a preventive program.
Heartgard Plus treats and controls three species of hookworms and two species of roundworms. It kills heartworm larvae, preventing them from developing into adult heartworms. Heartgard Plus chewable tablets are beef flavoured and highly palatable.