Ontario SPCA

Ontario SPCA

November 03, 2009 15:22 ET

The Ontario SPCA Answers Call to Stop the Spread of Heartworm

NEWMARKET, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 3, 2009) - The Ontario SPCA would like to address any concerns the public may have on the issue of an increase in heartworm cases in the Province of Ontario. Heartworm is often spread through mosquitoes and pets already infected with the disease. If left untreated the disease could be fatal to your pet.

The record rainfall in 2008 and 2009 may have helped drive up the mosquito population resulting in an increase in heartworm cases. This is not uncommon to see every few years.

The Ontario SPCA Answers the Call to Action

Today, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association stated that "Dogs brought into Canada from heartworm-endemic areas without first being tested according to the American Heartworm Society's protocol pose a significant health risk to the domestic dog and cat population, as well as local wildlife."

"As the leading animal welfare organization in Ontario, we are always appreciative when a partner like the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association highlights an issue that could negatively impact the health of pets and other animals," says Kate MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario SPCA.

The Ontario SPCA recognizes that this is an ongoing issue across the province of Ontario and is currently researching the option of opening much needed heartworm clinics. "The establishment of heartworm specific clinics province-wide is a strategy we are considering to help eradicate this issue and alley public concern", says Ms. MacDonald. The Ontario SPCA will continue to update the public with more information on this program as it becomes available.


Recognizing that as few as 40 percent of dog owners ever get the medication to prevent heartworm, the Ontario SPCA strongly urges the public to visit a veterinarian for advice and prevention medication as required.

The American Heartworm Society has developed a testing protocol specifying that the dog must have three negative heartworm tests; an initial test, followed by a second test at 4 months and a final test at 9 months after the initial test. During this period the dog must also be on a monthly preventative heartworm medication. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) only requires a single test for adult-pet heartworm.

The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association has provided the following advice for pet owners:

- Before adopting (or purchasing) a dog, ask if the dog was imported from another country.

- If the dog was imported from a heartworm-endemic area, ask for written confirmation that it has passed the three phase American Heartworm Society test.

- For those leaving the country with their pets make sure that your pet has been tested and is receiving the proper prevention medication.

- If you own a dog, ensure that it is tested regularly for heartworm disease and is receiving a monthly heartworm preventative during mosquito season (June to November).

- If you own a cat, talk to your veterinarian about whether the cat should also be taking medication to prevent heartworm.

About the Ontario SPCA

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ontario SPCA): Protecting animals since 1873, the Ontario SPCA is a registered charity comprised of over 50 Communities relying primarily on donations to fund animal protection, care and rehabilitation; advocacy; and humane education. The Ontario SPCA Act mandates the Society to enforce animal cruelty laws and provides Society investigators with police powers to do so - making the Ontario SPCA unique among animal welfare organizations in the province. The Ontario SPCA is a member of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, and is affiliated with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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Contact Information

  • Media Contacts:
    Ontario SPCA
    Alison Cross
    Public Relations Manager
    1-888-668-7722 x 305