Symptoms Of Heartworms In Dogs
Heartworms in dogs introduction
The heartworm is a small parasitic roundworm that looks like a string of translucent thread. Despite its reference to the heart, the worm usually settles in the lung arteries, leading to fatal lung tissue and vessel damage, extensive damage may also lead to organ damage.
Dogs are what is known as the "definitive" host, meaning they are the vessel through which these worms reach adulthood. But canines, while the most common host, are not alone in their plight with the parasite. Other pets such as cats and ferrets (and occasionally even humans) are sometimes forced to contend with heartworms.
Transmission is usually difficult to predict and control because the larvae are deposited under the skin by infected mosquitoes. The larvae then travel through the veins to their chosen nestling ground where, around four months later, the reach maturity and begin their potentially fatal course.
Buying medicine online for a case of canine heartworms is not recommended. However, if you do, please read the pet owner instructions in the link provided above.
Symptoms of heartworms
Initially there are no symptoms of heartworms in dogs, making it difficult to spot the illness early. As the disease reaches an advanced stage however, complications begin to arise and may begin to multiply as time goes by.
- Labored breathing
- Fainting spells
- Rasping sounds coming from the lungs
- Congestive heart failure
- Fluid retention (chest area)
- Tachycardia (rapid pulse)
- An enlarged liver
- Dry coat
- Rapid weight loss
- Vomiting and diarrhea
A vet can diagnose heartworms by using one of several different methods including the modified Knott test or an antigen test. Dogs should be routinely screened for heartworms, especially between the ages of four and eight.
Heartworm treatment in dogs
Heartworm prevention is relatively cheap, however, treatment presents some risks and is very expensive.
Preventing heartworms is a relatively simple process, but your veterinarian may recommend different solutions based on where you live and how much time your dog spends outdoors. Bear in mind that heartworms have been diagnosed in all 50 states. There are three main types of prescription prevention solutions:
- A topical liquid
- Via injection
- Via tablet or pill
Different stages of the disease require different treatments, potentially leading to anything from a series of injections to surgery (in critical cases).
Immiticide injections are commonly used to treat heartworms in dogs, but because of its chemical toxicity (it is an arsenic compound) it presents some risks.
Once the injections and treatment has been administered, the death of the heartworms can clog up arteries, thus requiring the pet owner to make sure that the dog limit exercise for six weeks after treatment. Exercise can lead to death!
Also, remember that heartworms in a non-infectious disease, and your other pets (and yourself) do not run the risk of being infected.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article, for any questions or concerns, feel free to use the comments module below this text.