What is heartworm?
Heartworm is a parasite worm that is spread between animals through the bites of mosquitoes. Mosquitos find the parasite’s larvae in the blood of its host and then transmit the parasite to other animals. Adult heartworms can grow to be several inches long and can be several inches in the heart and lung arteries of the animal. Before the heartworm larvae enter the bloodstream, the parasite produces microfilariae, which are essentially microscopic viruses. These microfilariae are what provide the mosquito with the genetic material for the development of a heartworm.
Where do heartworms come from?
The adult heartworm lives in the right ventricle of the heart. The heartworm then produces microfilariae as it matures. When the microfilariae enter the mosquito, they become the infective agents of choice by the mosquito as it saliva tests positive for the development of heartworm.
How Does a mosquito Become infected with heartworm?
Before the heartworm larvae become adults, they go through several molts before becoming an adult worm. Molts areua puppies, about every three months. The worm is then ready to pass on to the next animal through the mosquito’s bite. Once the worm has reached the heart and lungs of the dog, the worm will mature into an adult worm.
What are the symptoms of heartworm?
When the infected dog shows symptoms of heartworm, the first thing you will notice is soft cough. This is typical. The dog may lack energy and appear lazy. This is because the infected dog has a weakened heart and respiratory system.
The advantage of treating your dog’s heartworm is that, as the adult worm dies, the humans in the dog’s wakes will benefit from the freed-up energy. This is exactly why most vets recommend heartworm medication for your pet.
What is the best way to prevent heartworm?
It is possible to prevent heartworm through a number of ways. Heartworm preventatives are prescribed by the vet and can be bought at retail or online. These have been proven to kill heartworm larvae before they become adults.
There are also a range of prescription treatments available through your vet, and these are generally given in monthly or daily dosing. These usually cost around $100 – $andy, and most vets recommend that you consult an expert in order to determine the most suitable treatment.
What if my dog has adult heartworms?
Adult heartworms do not spend all their lives in the heart. Instead, they remain in the lungs until they eventually die there. As you might expect from their name, they settle in the lungs and often take up residence there.
Can heartworm disease be treated?
Yes, but not as effectively as preventing it. The best way to treat a dog with heartworm is to kill the adult worms and, once done, the process needs to be repeated every month. This is done using a prescription heartworm medicine.
Continue preventive treatment till all stages of the heartworm parasites have been killed. When the adult worms have been killed, the dog needs no further preventatives.
The big advantage of heartworm prevention is that it does not rely on the monthly Worm meats. The dogs heartworms are killed every month whether they use a standard heartworm medicine or a preventative.
If your dog has adult worms in his heart and lungs, what can I do?
If you suspect that your dog has heartworm, your best bet is to consult your vet immediately. He will be able to figure out if the adult worms are actually heartworm or not.
However, most people get a heartworm test only when they take their dog for a check up and it will be too late to cure. Therefore, even if your dog has had a heartworm test before, it is still safe to take him for a heartworm test twice a year.
If your dog has any of the symptoms listed below, you should take him to your veterinarian:
CoughingDry coughSpasmingC or overly heavyUse of N armIf your dog coughing sporadically, the vet will probably ask you to bring his nose up and examine it. The vet will probably need to do this for a more expert inspection.However, the vet may not be able to find any adult worms. There are only a few, two or three in all, and these are the ones that are killed nearly all the time by the adult worms. There are also a few other types of symptoms that your vet may diagnose and write down. Fortunately the veterinarian is not that concerned if this happens. We have found in the past, that the symptoms dogs suffer from are not often indicative of the existence of heartworms.