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Heartworms - Info Please

Guest carriej

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Guest carriej

Hi guys,


Heartworm is not an issue here in Atlantic Canada. I have been looking at studies, and most animals to test positive for heartworm in Canada were brought from the US or another country. There was a big influx of heartworm in Canada when all the katrina rescue dogs were being adopted out here.


I guess it's just too cold here; but I really don't know anything about heartworm. It seems like there are some cases in Ontario and the warmer provinces though like BC. I have only been able to scrounge up one case in Atlantic Canada and the dog had come from somewhere else.


It isn't something I have ever protected against (nor was it recommended to me - ever), and Chance had been tested prior to coming into Canada, once in Canada, and given a heartworm preventative before coming to stay with us.


Question is... Should I protect against this? Should I not? I don't want to give Chance something he doesn't need.



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I am no expert but I'm wondering if you should just give in the summer months, just in case. Way back when (and when I lived in the north), my vet only had me give it to my dogs in the summer/warmer months. That has changed now and even where I used to live (up north) the vets recommend year round. I'm sure someone more knowledgeable will give you a better answer. That's just my uneducated thought :).

<p>Kim and the hound - Rumor
Missing my angels Marlow, Silver, Holly and Lucky

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I would ask your vet. Often, heartworm preventatives help prevent other parasites (chart here), but I don't know that hookworms or whipworms or any of those guys are a problem in your area...or whether Chance might have brought parasites with him.


Also consider whether you plan to travel with Chance--take a vacation someplace where it's warmer--or perhaps be around other dogs at home who are from southern regions and might be carrying parasites. Some of the parasites can cause serious, long-term problems in pets (like intestinal inflammation).

Kathy and Q (CRT Qadeer from Fuzzy's Cannon and CRT Bonnie) and
Jane (WW's Aunt Jane from Trent Lee and Aunt M); photos to come.

Missing Silver (5.19.2005-10.27.2016), Tigger (4.5.2007-3.18.2016),
darling Sam (5.10.2000-8.8.2013), Jacey-Kasey (5.19.2003-8.22.2011), and Oreo (1997-3.30.2006)

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I agree about asking your vet. Also FYI, see this link for results of a 2010 survey regarding heartworm prevalence in Canada. The survey indicates that HW infection rates are highest in southern Ontario, southern Manitoba, and southern Quebec, although cases have been reported in other regions.


As you probably know, heartworm is transmitted by mosquitos, so the risk of infection is low during the winter months in very cold climates. But keep in mind that a dog who has been bitten by a heartworm-carrying mosquito won't test positive for heartworm or show any symptoms until at least 6 months after the bite occurred. So if your boy had a negative HW test right before coming to live with you, it might be a good idea to repeat the test 6-12 months later.


A great many dogs (including Greyhounds) imported to Canada from the US will be coming from places where heartworm is endemic. Again, consult your vet, but prudence suggests that these dogs should be on HW preventative until it is certain that they haven't contracted the disease.

Merlin (Heathers Wizard), Mina (Where's Rebecca), and Mae the Galga - three crazy dogs in the house of M

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Personally, if it wasn't in my area, I wouldn't give it. But your vet might have a better idea. I don't give it where I am now (all 3 of the vets in the area said it wasn't necessary as it is extremely rare here). When I lived further south, I gave it from May-Sept., which I believe is the normal protocol for Canada.

Edited by RedHead
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Hello there!


I am no expert either but I worked as a vet tech for 10 years before I changed fields to become a teacher. We live in Québec so it's pretty cold here too and sadly there are cases of heartworm. I didn't treat when I lived in Montreal since there used to be very few cases diagnosed in that area but now that we moved to the country (Laurentides) we give preventive treatment from april to november. There are cases diagnosed here every year.


If you have a trustworthy vet, he should be able to give you more info on the number of cases that have been diagnosed in your area and don't forget that those stats are influenced by the number of people that do have their dogs tested. If the number of dogs tested is low and there are still a reasonable number of dogs that are found positive, than you can only imagine the number of infected dogs walking around.



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