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Important Things to Know About Heartworm Disease in Dogs

  Jan 25, 2020

Important Things to Know About Heartworm Disease in Dogs

We thrive to implement the best possible ways to keep our pet healthy and to protect him from parasites.  But, no matter what we do, those parasites find their way back to our dog. Among the numerous tiny creatures making your pet’s life difficult, heartworms are one of the most dangerous parasites found in dogs. Heartworms are the potentially fatal disease that can affect a dog if left untreated. And that’s the reason prevention is always the best option than cure. Therefore, if you’re a pet parent of a novice in pet parenting, here’s all that you need to about heartworms in dogs. 

What Are Heartworms in Dogs

The worms reside in the mosquito for a short period of time in order to become infective. When a mosquito bites a dog, it picks up larval heartworms which eventually circulate in the bloodstream of the infected dog. Heartworm disease in dogs detriments the dog’s health and affects their quality of life by damaging their heart, lungs and arteries. If left untreated, the number of worms can increase and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life. Dogs with a large number of heartworms can develop sudden blockages of blood flow within the heart leading to a fatal form of cardiovascular collapse. And that’s the reason preventing heartworms is far better than curing them.

How Do Dogs Get Heartworms

The heartworm eggs travel to the dog’s heart and settle in the right heart ventricle. As these worms grow larger and increase in number, they soon begin to cause severe damage to a dog’s heart. The worms mature into adults, mate and produce offspring while living inside a dog. Heartworm disease in dogs can cause anemia, right-sided chronic heart failure, rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure. Here’s what a heartworm life cycle looks like.

Symptoms of Heartworms in Dogs

Heartworm disease symptoms in dogs include:

  • Coughing
  • Weight Loss
  • Lethargy or inactivity
  • Rapid or difficulty breathing 
  • Allergic reactions
  • Collapse
  • Bulging Chest

Other signs of heartworm in dogs

  • Clogging and damage to the lining of the artery leading from the heart to the lungs
  • Liver and kidney dysfunction
  • Heart valve malfunction
  • Secondary pneumonia 
  • Increases blood pressure
  • Nosebleeds
  • Heart failure

Diagnosis of Heartworms

The test for heartworm disease is simple. It just involves collecting a small blood sample and results are available within a few minutes if run in house or a day or two if the test is sent out. Once the dog is diagnosed with heartworms on the basis of its severity, size and stage, the vet will recommend heartworm preventives. It is feasible to treat pre-adult heartworms in dogs with the help of heartworm preventives or antibiotics before beginning the actual heartworm treatment. It is mandatory for pet parents to take their dogs for annual testing even when the dogs are on heartworm preventives.

Heartworm Treatment for Dogs

The mature heartworms, work their way into your canine's heart, lungs and related veins. If your dog is determined to have such developed heartworms, at that point they require actual heartworm treatment and not simply the preventives. It takes 60 days to finish a heartworm treatment as it comprises of a series of injections that kills the worms. Generally, the vet will recommend finishing the course of heartworm preventives and anti-infection agents including doxycycline and prednisone to be taken orally so as to reduce the chances of unwanted side effects. This treatment can be incredibly toxic to a dog’s body and has been known to cause dangerous blood clusters. In extreme cases, surgery might be required. 

Fortunately, protecting your pet is simple. All you need to do is keep up with his preventive care products.  Nexgard Spectra, Heartgard Plus, Revolution and Nuheart for dogs  are the absolute best and demonstrated dewormers that prevent heartworm infection.

Important Things to Know About Heartworm Disease in Dogs

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