It’s natural to feel ‘eww’ thinking about parasites. But as a responsible pet owner, you want to protect your dog from them. When most people think of pet parasites, they typically think of fleas and ticks. However, some parasites can be even more harmful than these and harder to treat as well.
Heartworm infection is a serious condition that can lead to lasting health problems and even cause your dog’s death. However, with knowledge about heartworm treatment and prevention, you can keep your dog from contracting these deadly parasites.
Let’s explore what heartworms are as well as their symptoms and prevention methodologies.
Heartworm Disease Is Transmitted By Mosquitoes Carrying Infective Young Worms Called Microfilariae.
These larvae are transmitted to your pets through an infected mosquito. The larvae then migrate through the heart and lungs, where they develop into adult worms that live in the pulmonary artery near the heart. Then just like most parasites, adult female worms release eggs and increase their numbers.
Heartworm disease is a serious condition that can cause life-threatening complications. Your pet may suffer from heart failure, respiratory distress, blood clots, anemia, and so on.
Keep Your Home And Yard Mosquito Free
According to Companion Animal Parasite Council, high risk of heartworm infections are expected to continue along the Mississippi river, throughout the southern portions of the interior Midwest, and along the Atlantic coast north into Virginia and southern New Jersey.
So the best prevention will be to keep mosquitoes out of your house by using anti-mosquito agents. Try to retain your pets indoors at dusk and dawn. Keeping yards free of stagnant water and trash is also helpful since mosquitoes lay eggs in these areas. You can even consider using mosquito repellent on your pets, so you won’t need to check on them every now and then.
Routine Veterinarian Visits
Schedule an annual checkup for your dog, and make sure that heartworm testing is included. This test can help protect your pet from a potentially difficult situation.
Heartworm-preventative medication must be prescribed by a veterinarian. Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms can also be prevented with certain medicines. So talk to your veterinarian about which preventative is right for your dog.
When Choosing Heartworm Prevention For Your Pet, It’s Important To Select A Product With A Wide Safety Margin.
While it’s essential to choose a heartworm preventative that works well for your pet, it’s equally important to choose one with a wide safety margin. What does this mean? The safety margin is the difference between the lowest dose at which toxic effects are observed and the highest dose at which no toxic effects are observed.
In other words, if you choose a medication with a large safety margin, your dog will have more protection against potential side effects while still protecting against heartworms and other parasites.
For example, the best way to prevent heartworm disease is to give your pet year-round protection with a preventive medication like Heartgard Plus Chewables for dogs that are available in the market. Some are available in beef or pork flavor and are safe for use in puppies as young as 6 weeks of age.
Keep The Routine Each Year
Heartworms live in your dog’s heart, lungs, and arteries. After six months of incubation, the worms grow so large they can cause inflammation and damage their host’s organs. Within a year, a typical infected dog will have hundreds of these parasites inside him or her.
The American Heartworm Society recommends that all dogs be tested for heartworms once a year, even if they are already on medication.
Some Important Facts About Heartworm Disease
- It can be transmitted to pets only through bites from infected mosquitoes, not pet-to-pet or owner-to-pet.
- Heartworm disease can be difficult to detect in its early stages, as it may cause no noticeable symptoms for months.
- Heartworm disease symptoms can include coughing, lethargy, and changes in appetite. Although these are common signs of heartworms, only a veterinarian can diagnose your pet with this condition by thorough testing.
- Heartworm can affect any type of dog, irrespective of the breed.
- If it is caught early, this illness can be treated. In later stages, the treatment may no longer be effective.
So now you know heartworm disease can be cured if actions are taken beforehand. The best thing will be to get your furry friend regular checkups and take steps to steer clear of mosquitoes.