Heartworms in Dogs General Overview
Heartworm is a disease that could take you by surprise. Before starting any treatment for heartworm you should first know how the disease acts. If your dog gets the disease it is in great danger as the worm is known to be fatal in most untreated cases. In dogs, it takes about six months before the heartworm turns into an adult worm that may threaten your pet’s heart. As these worms get inside the body of your pet, they could reproduce, situation you must avoid.
A couple of treatments have been developed to cure this deadly disease. The disease is not too well known among common pet owners. As the disease can infect humans too, people should be better informed about the disease and how it should be treated in case the pet is already infected.
Let’s start with an overview of the disease. The heartworm is a roundworm which is transferred from host to host with the help of mosquito. Mostly it infects dogs, but can also infect cats, foxes, wolves and humans as well. It is very important for your dog’s health that you know as many as you can about the heartworm disease. The disease gets its name from the fact that when the worm is an adult it establishes in the pulmonary artery of the host where it can survive for several years.
A good treatment it’s mandatory as the infection could cause a serious disease that could endanger the life of your pet, even death if untreated.
The worm gets through several life stages until it develops into an adult worm and lives on the heart of the pet. The worm then produces thousands of microfilariae each day, and then it would circulate in the dog’s bloodstream. When the dog is bitten again by a mosquito, even by an uninfected mosquito, it transmits the disease to the mosquito. Now the mosquito will transmit the disease to another host.
Diagnosis is the most important step in helping treat heartworm infection. Dogs infected with heartworm do not reveal any signs until the worms have reached maturity or at least after a 6 month period. You must pay attention to any mood change or other signs and symptoms. After this period, the animal will show a sedentary lifestyle. This is the most common symptom for the heartworm disease. Other symptoms like cough and exhaustion and in cases of advanced stages of infection weight loss, coughing up blood, fainting, and heart failure may occur.
Before starting a treatment for heartworm, your pet must go through an evaluation of organs like heart, kidney and liver function to see if any risks are involved. After this check up, adult worms are treated with an arsenic-based compound. There are several approved drugs on the market that help treat heartworm infection.
After and during the treatment the dog must then rest for a few weeks just enough time to enable it to recover from the treatment. The microfilariae are treated with a different and separate form of treatment.