Here at the MVC we diagnosed two clinical cases of canine heartworm disease in two family owned Markham pet dogs in 2014. One was a 7 year old female husky named Simone and the other a 4 year old female spayed bloodhound named Nellie. Both families brought their pets to MVC for their spring heartworm infection screening blood test. Neither family suspected that there was anything wrong with their pets.
After finding a positive heartworm test result, some additional evaluation was initiated including chest radiographs, a physical examination and additional blood testing. It was determined that both dogs were indeed positive for heartworm infection and both were suffering from changes in their lung health due to the adult heartworms present in their pulmonary arteries. This was very serious.
Fortunately these cases of heartworm disease were identified before it was too late.
Both dogs were treated with a complex combination of many medications that would attempt to eliminate both the adult and immature stages of heartworm. In addition, several other medications were used to reduce the potential side effects of the treatment and promote a more successful outcome. This treatment required that our veterinarians obtain an emergency drug release from the federal government allowing us to import the required medication from the USA.
Many months of treatment were required in this treatment protocol. In addition to medication side effects, discomfort to the patients, worry to the family and MVC team as well as the considerable cost required to treat these pets, several months of complete exercise restriction was required to reduce the side effects from the dying adult worms.
I am happy to report that both dogs have completed their treatments. Simone has been clear for both of her post treatment tests and Nellie (who’s final test is coming up soon) was clear on her first test.
Thanks to early diagnosis, family commitment and the work of the MVC team, both dogs are doing very well.
This is a serious reminder that heartworm infection is a preventable risk for our family pets, and we strongly recommend annual heartworm screening and diligent use of appropriate heartworm preventives from June 1-Nov 1 or longer depending on travel plans and lifestyle.