Heartworm Disease in Dogs ,Causes, Symptom, Prevention and Treatment
Our dog friends are seriously at risk from heartworm disease, a dangerous but treatable illness. Dirofilaria immitis is a worm parasite that causes the condition. Mosquitoes are the organism’s primary means of transmission; they transfer the microfilariae, or heartworm larvae, from one infected animal host to another. In addition to putting strain on the dog’s heart, parasites can inflame the lungs and blood vessels. Furthermore, serious consequences could occur when the number of worms increases, or the heartworms die.
There are about 70 mosquito species that can spread heartworm illness. Dogs kept outside are more likely to contract infections. Any dog, whether kept indoors or outside, has the potential to contract the disease; all it takes is a mosquito bite to transmit the infectious heartworm larvae. Most infections are identified in dogs 3–8 years old and of medium–to enormous size.
The number of worms present, the dog’s immune system, the length of the infection, and the animal’s activity level all affect how severe a heartworm infection is and what symptoms to look out for. Most infectious larvae mature into adult worms, and most dogs are highly susceptible to contracting heartworms. Furthermore, additional damage to the blood vessels is caused by the dog’s immune system, mainly when it reacts to dead worms. Essential details regarding canine heartworm disease are covered in this article.
Symptoms of Heartworm Disease in Dogs
The common symptoms of heartworm infection include the following:
⇒Intolerance to activity
⇒Blue or purplish discoloration of skin and gums
⇒Bleeding from the nose
⇒Fainting and fluid build-up in the abdominal cavity
On the other hand, the degree of lung damage and the dog’s activity level are frequently linked to the indications’ severity. Active dogs, including hunters and performers, usually exhibit more noticeable infection symptoms than less active dogs. Inactive dogs may have few or no symptoms while having many worms. Additionally, clinical symptoms may appear as worms pass away or if blood clots or worm fragments obstruct blood arteries.
Prevention of Heartworm Disease in Dogs
Ensuring your pet gets the recommended medication dosage at the appropriate time is the most crucial thing pet owners can do to prevent heartworm infection in their animals. Since the most frequent preventive medications for dogs are only administered once a month, many pet owners could overlook giving their pets their prescriptions. It might be helpful for pet owners to write the dates of their heartworm medicine on the door of their refrigerator and then mark the days when the prescription is given out. The majority of heartworm-preventative medication manufacturers also offer free email reminder services.
Serious repercussions could result from missing an administration date. You should talk to your veterinarian about giving the medication if you forget to take a dosage.
Dogs should start receiving preventive care as early as six to eight weeks of age. This age does not require pretesting. Dogs 7 months of age or older should begin preventive treatment with an antigen test to ensure they are not currently sick, and then, because worms develop over six months, a second negative test 6–7 months later to confirm the dog is not infected. Preventive care for dogs is generally advised year-round; however, the ideal regimen for your pet should be discussed with your veterinarian.
Treatment of Heartworm Disease in Dogs
Your veterinarian will need a thorough medical history before treating your dog for a heartworm infection. The arsenical melarsomine dihydrochloride is the only medication to treat adult heartworm infections. Heartworms can be killed by appropriate therapy, which also kills certain immature heartworms. A 2-dose protocol or a 3-dose protocol are the two approved treatment protocols, or approaches, used to treat current illnesses. The drug is injected deeply into the dog’s back muscles in both situations, with the treatment areas switched around. At the injection sites, about one-third of dogs may experience localized discomfort, swelling, soreness during movement, or a sterile abscess infrequently. The two dosages in the two-dose treatment are spaced 24 hours apart. The 3-dose protocol postpones the treatment schedule. The dog would first get one injection on this timetable. The second and third injections will be given one month later, separated by twenty-four hours. Regardless of the dog’s stage of heartworm illness, many doctors opt to utilize the 3-injection treatment since it may be more effective at eliminating all parasites and safer for the animal.
Dogs not appropriately restricted to limit their activity after treatment risk developing serious respiratory complications from dead heartworms. When a dog with heartworm infection is treated, these issues may arise a few days to six weeks later. Medications to minimize blood clotting and inflammation, cage confinement, and oxygen therapy for many days can all aid dogs with treatment-related problems when treating heartworms. Most canines that receive the proper care start to heal from the side effects of treatment in about a day.
- American Heartworm Society: https://www.heartwormsociety.org/
- American Veterinary Medical Association: https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/heartworm-disease
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/dirofilariasis/index.html