Common Questions About Heart Worm




Common Questions About Heart Worm

Heartworm disease is a dangerous, but completely preventable infection where parasitic worms grow inside the chambers of your dog’s heart and large blood vessels. Left undetected, heartworm disease can become serious and even result in death as worms eventually block blood flow to the heart and lungs. That’s why heartworm prevention and early detection are so important! Protect your dog against the dangers of heartworm.

Common questions about heart worm are often related to dogs but there are other species affected by heart worm in addition to dogs. One should know that in addition to dogs, cats, foxes, wolfs, horses, sea lions and more are also affected.

Here are some of the most common questions asked about heart worms.

Can heart worm be cured or not?

Yes, in dogs, heartworm disease can be treated, but treatment can result in complications, sometimes fatal ones. The adult worms are killed by injections of arsenic-containing compounds. The treatment must be done carefully to avoid drug toxicity or complications resulting from the dead or dying worms.

What is the drug used most often for the prevention of heart worm in dogs?

Ivermectin is the drug used most often for preventive action for heart worms.

What are the symptoms of heartworm infestations in dogs?

Initially, there are no symptoms. But as more and more worms crowd the heart and lungs, most dogs will develop a cough. As it progresses, they won’t be able to exercise as much as before; they’ll become winded easier. Dogs affected reveal a constant coughing, panting and dullness in many occasions. With severe heartworm disease, we can hear abnormal lung sounds, dogs can pass out from the loss of blood to the brain, and they can retain fluids. Eventually, most dogs will die if the worms are not treated.

What are the size of the worms?

In the case of the females, it is about twenty-seven centimeters and in the case of males, it is about seventeen centimeters in length.

Is there a carrier involved in the transmission of the disease?

Yes. Mosquitoes are often associated as carriers since the early development of larvae of heart worms occur in them.

Is the preventative drug meant only for heart worms or others also?

The preventative drug is meant not only for heart worms but also for hook worms, whip worms, and round worms.

What is the infective type of larvae that is associated with the transmission of heart worms?

Third stage larva that is transmitted by mosquito bites. This occurs through out the world. In some areas, the incidences are less in colder months in which mosquito breeding doesn’t happen and will be dormant during these periods.

Once my dog has heartworms, what’s the treatment? How much will it cost?

The main drug that you treat heartworm with is called Immiticide. It’s an injectable, arsenic-based product. The dog is given two or three injections that will kill the adult heartworms in the blood vessels of the heart. Additionally, there are forms of external applications also available. With all the prep work, the cost can run up to $1,000. But just the treatment can be done for about $300 in some areas.

What is the frequency of drug used for preventative drug?

You should start at least one month before mosquito season and up to two months after the mosquito season ends, ivermectin or milbemycin oxime may be given once monthly for prevention. Diethylcarbamazine may be used for therapy purposes. There are monthly pills, monthly topicals that you put on the skin, and there’s also a six-month injectable product. The damage that’s done to the dog and the cost of the treatment is way more than the cost to prevent heartworm disease. A year’s supply of heartworm preventative will cost about $35 to $80, depending on a dog’s weight.

Heartworm prevention is safe, easy and inexpensive compared to treating a dog after worms have matured into adults. While treatment for heartworm disease is possible in dogs, it is a complicated and expensive process, taking months for infected animals to recover and there is often permanent damage to the heart. For cats, there is no effective treatment to kill the worms. By investing in a preventive medication, you will spare your pet from this deadly disease and its complicated treatment. Talk to your veterinarian today to start a prevention program for your pets.

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