For most dog owners, keeping their dog at home seems like an effective method to maintain them safe from getting infected with heartworms. However, this is not the case. We are going to evaluate the best preventive methods to maintain your dog healthy and free of this terrible infection.
Heartworm disease can be a very serious issue. It could grow for years inside your dog without you even realizing the signs. Therefore, the best way to save your pet is to prevent the disease. The most popular preventive methods come from topical and oral treatments.
How do dogs get heartworms?
Mosquitoes are the transmitters of the heartworm larvae. Through the mosquito, the larvae get into the body and bloodstream of a dog. Small larvae grow into adult worms, which could be as large as a foot and live for more than 4 years. The worms begin to lodge themselves in the lungs, heart, blood vessels and start to reproduce. A dog could host up to 250 adult worms, which can cause severe problems in his/her body.
What are the consequences of heartworm disease in dogs?
An infected dog can suffer from severe problems. When the signs of the disease are left unchecked, your dog can become seriously ill, and in the worst case scenario, the disease could be fatal. These are a few of the signs that you could identify in your dog when he/she has heartworm disease:
- Loss of breath (often gasping for air)
- Intolerance to exercise
- Weight loss, change of regular eating routine
- Mild/severe coughing
- Constant fatigue
- Loss of appetite
If you realize one or more of these signs on your dog, make sure to take her/him to the vet as soon as possible to proceed with testings and examinations.
Treatment for heartworm disease
There are treatments available for heartworm disease in dogs. An effective, but harsh treatment, consists of injecting your dog an arsenic-based medicine that is meant to kill adult worms.
As this treatment can cause damage to your dog’s systems, he/she needs to be hospitalized during the procedure. He/she will need at least 2 doses of medicines to guarantee that all the worms are dead.
Although this disease is treatable, it is always better to avoid the heartworms and maintain your dog healthy.
Protection for your dog
As mosquitoes are the transmitters of heartworm disease, you must maintain your dog out of their reach. You can ensure that all windows stay close during rainy seasons and avoid the accumulation of water at home.
My dog previously had heartworms. Can she/he get them again?
Yes. Any dog can get infected with heartworms, even if she/he has previously suffered from the disease.
Some preventive medicines effectively kill larvae when they make their way into your dog. Therefore, the larvae will not be able to grow into an adult worm and affect the main systems of your dog. However, in order to work, it needs to be administered in the first 6 weeks after your dog was bitten by an infected mosquito. Some vets recommend giving dogs preventative medicine monthly.