Overview of Heartworms in Dogs
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially deadly affliction caused by the parasitic roundworm, Dirofilaria immitis. Heartworms are spread to dogs from mosquitos that carry the larval stage of the Dirofilaria Immitis, thus leaving dogs at risk of these harmful parasites. If left untreated, heartworms can cause severe damage to a dog’s organs, as well as permanent disability, even death. Because of this, it is essential for all dog owners to be informed about the ways to both prevent and treat heartworms in dogs.
How Does Heartworm Disease Develop?
Heartworm disease begins when a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito. The small larvae of the heartworm then travel through a dog’s bloodstream and develop into adult worms. These adult worms can live up to seven years in a dog’s heart and pulmonary arteries, and if the dog is untreated, the number of worms can grow to be very high, leading to more severe damage.
Signs of Heartworm Disease
One of the most noticeable signs of heartworm disease is a persistent cough and difficulty breathing. Other signs of heartworm disease include loss of appetite, lethargy, weight loss, and reluctance to exercise.
Treatment of Heartworm Disease
Treatment of heartworm disease involves killing the adult heartworms and then treating the damage they’ve caused. The most common treatment is an injection, which kills the adult heartworms. After that, the dog is given medications to help rebuild the damage caused by the heartworms and to reduce inflammation.
Preventing Heartworm Disease
The best way to prevent heartworm disease is to use an appropriate preventative medication. These medications are usually given every month, and contain drugs that kill the immature forms of the Dirofilaria immitis if your dog is bitten by a mosquito carrying it.
Screening for Heartworm Disease
Heartworm disease can also be screened for in your dog’s blood. This step is essential for detecting the disease early, before it has had time to cause serious damage. It is important to screen for heartworm disease regularly, as it can take up to six months for the tests to detect the presence of heartworm disease in your dog.
Your vet may also recommend additional medications to reduce symptoms associated with heartworm disease, such as pain and inflammation. These medications will not cure your dog, but can make them more comfortable while they are undergoing treatment.
Dogs undergoing treatment for heartworm disease will need to be monitored closely at home. Your vet will likely recommend an exercise and activity plan specifically tailored to your dog’s treatment. Additionally, your vet may recommend additional supplements to help support your dog’s health during treatment.
After your dog has completed treatment for heartworm disease, it is important to continue to use a preventative medication to help prevent reinfection. This is especially true for dogs living in areas with a high prevalence of mosquitos.
People Also Ask
What Causes Heartworms In Dogs?
Heartworms in dogs are caused by the Dirofilaria immitis parasite, which is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.
How Can You Tell if A Dog Has Heartworms?
Signs of heartworm disease in dogs include a persistent cough, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, lethargy, weight loss, and reluctance to exercise. A vet can also use a blood test to check for the presence of heartworms.
What Is the Best Heartworm Medicine For Dogs?
The best heartworm medication for dogs is an appropriate preventative medication, which should be given monthly. These medications contain drugs that kill immature forms of the Dirofilaria immitis, which can be carried by mosquitos.
When Should A Dog Be Tested For Heartworms?
It is recommended to screen for heartworms in your dog at least once a year, and more often if your dog is at a higher risk for infection, such as living in an area with a high prevalence of mosquitos.
What Are the Side Effects of Heartworm Treatment?
Side effect of heartworm treatment vary, but may include vomiting, anemia, fever, and anorexia. Your vet should be able to recommend additional medications to reduce side effects.
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially deadly affliction caused by the parasitic roundworm, Dirofilaria immitis. If left untreated, it can cause severe damage and irreversible disability, or even death in a dog’s organs. The best way to protect your dog from heartworm disease is to use a preventive medication, as well as regular screening for heartworm disease. If you have any additional questions about heartworms in dogs, be sure to consult with your vet to learn more.