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Heartworm and Ticks, and how they spread

You have heard about Heartworm and probably have seen ticks at some point in your life. I thought it would be helpful to give a little information about these two.

Heartworm is actually a worm parasite the adult form of which lives in the heart and the arteries of the lung tissue of canines and to lesser degree felines. The worm needs mosquitoes as the vector (transmitter) to reproduce. The adult worms produce off spring which is called “microfilaria”. The tiny microscopic microfilaria circulate in the blood until a mosquito bites the infected dog (or cat) and sucks them in. Then the mosquito bites a healthy dog and transfers the microfilaria into the new host’s body. From then on, it takes about 7 months for the microfilaria to turn into an adult in the heart or lung tissue of the newly infected dog.

It is important to cut the life cycle of the worm before they turn into adults. This is why blood tests and preventive medication are important.

Ticks behave differently. They are not insects, they are arachnids.  Ticks attach to the skin of the host (human, cat, dog, rabbit, wild mammals) and suck blood and lay eggs. The eggs drop onto the ground and in proper environment grow into nymphs and then adult ticks.

Adult ticks climb on tall grass and other vegetation and wait there until a host passes by. Then they attach to the host and the circle continues.

Adult ticks are always actively seeking a blood meal at temperatures above 4 degrees of Celsius!! While sucking blood from their host they can transmit very harmful diseases such as Lyme disease and in dogs blood diseases such as Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis.

It is important to break the life cycle of ticks as well to prevent tick attachment and/or transmission of Lyme disease and the other tick-borne diseases.

We can help you further understand the life cycle and the potential dangers Heartworm and Ticks pose to your pets. At the same time, we will ba excited to introduce you to all different ways of prevention that you can use to keep your pets safe.

Please, call us at Unionville South Pet Hospital 905 604 5 604 to book an appointment for a free consultation.


Dr. Dave Bonab

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