What is Heartworm Disease?
The dog is a natural host for heartworms. They live inside dogs, mature and reproduce. Heartworms are a foot long and can clog up a dog’s heart, arteries and lungs. They cause serious damage and are hard to treat. Even if the worms are gotten rid of the damage stays. In serious cases the dog can die. Prevention is the key.
Years ago when heartworm preventative came along it was not100%. I had one Basenji who had to be put to sleep. Although heartworm preventitative is still not 100% today, the rate is extremely high.
How Does Heartworm Come About?
Mosquitoes transmit heatrtworn. The adult female bites an infected animal it picks up baby worms. The mosquito forms larvae over 10 to 14 days. Fox, coyote, wolf and dogs are often infected. At this point, when the mosquito bites another animal she deposits the larvae into that animal.
It takes about six months for the larvae to become mature into adults. The worms can live for five to seven years. Each mosquito season can bring more worms to the poor animal.
What are the Signs That Your Dog has Heartworms?
In the early stages your dog may not have any symptoms. The longer the worms live the more likely symptoms develop.
Signs may include a mild cough, decreased activity level, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss. As the infestation goes on you might notice the dog’s belly enlarging due to excess liquid. If not caught the dog might experience life-threatening heart problems. This can cause a sudden onset of labored breathing, dark bloody urine and pale gums. Without immediate care, surgery to remove the worms, most dogs die.
Heatworm has been found in all 50 states. It can be spread by dogs, foxes, wolves, cats and wild animals. Dogs adopted across state lines can carry the worms to new places. Since mosquitoes are found both inside and outside all dogs are in danger.
What About Heartworm Protection?
Your pets should be tested every year, even if they are on medication. Your vet will only take a small sample of blood and test it there or send it out to a lab. If your dog or cat is negative you will get a prescription for preventative medication. You can either buy it from your vet or order it online. There are many online businesses that will sell you heartworm medication. It is usually about half price online for the same medication. We use Heartgaurd Plus. Our dogs think they are the greatest treat of any we give them.
If you miss one dose of medication, or give it late, it can leave your dog unprotected.