The Basics of Canine Heartworm Disease
Heartworm disease is a disease caused by a parasite, and it is most common among dogs more than in other animals, though it can also affect cats and some others. The occurrence of the disease is somewhat connected to mosquito infestation, since heartworms first infect mosquitoes at the earlier part of their life stage. The mosquito stands as the first host for the heartworm, and finally the carrier, allowing the disease to jump to one unsuspecting dog to the other. The heartworm can stay in a dog's system for a long time while going through the latter part of their life stage until they reproduce. Within this period, they travel towards the heart and settle there. Since this can happen very silently, a heartworm can stay in the heart of your pet for years, and you wouldn't even know it. So make sure that you watch out for the following symptoms.
The Symptoms of Heartworm Disease in Dogs
It takes a long time before the heartworm is able to lodge itself into a position that can pose severe danger to your dog. If the adult heartworm does not reach the dog's heart yet, symptoms will not be seen. Once an adult heartworm, however, reaches a dog's heart, the damage can be very severe, especially if it is not paid any medical attention. Within a number of months, the adult heartworm can reproduce, and the worms can severely infest the dog's heart before moving on to affect even the dog's lungs. At this point, the symptoms will begin to show. You will notice a remarkable decline in your dog's energy. Symptoms may include incessant coughing, rapid tireness, weakening, restlessness, weight loss, breathing difficulties, and fainting.
If the situation is not given attention to, the dog will eventually sufefr a heart failure. To keep the heartworm disease from escalating into an irreparable heart damage, take your dog in for a test at the first signs of infestation. Your veterinarian will perform a blood test or an occult test, to find both microfilariae and adult heartworms respectively. If an adult heartworm in the heart is already suspected, an X-ray can be conducted to confirm this.
Treatment of Canine Heartworm Disease
Canine heartworm disease is curable to some extent. As long as the disease has not yet progessed too much, the infected dog still stands a chance. The heartworm disease can be treated by killing the heartworms in the dog's heart. This can be done using an arsenic compounsd such as Immiticide. Aside from killing the adult heartworms in the dog's heart, the elimination of the microfilariae that may still be in the dog's bloodstream is also necessary. It can be a long continuous process until your dog becomes completely safe from it. In severe cases, a surgery may also be taken as a treatment alternative.
Prevention of Heartworm Disease in Dogs
The heartworm disease in dogs was discoevered a long time ago, and now, preventive medicine is available to protect dogs from this disease. Heartworm should not be taken lightly, as any veterinarian would tell you, a dog owner. Heartworm is a known dog killer. But since there are available treatment options, most dog owners don't pay much attention to the prevention of heartworm disease. However, treatment of an infection of heartworm can be a very distressing time for your pet, and if you are really a concerned dog owner, you wouldn't want your pet to go through that. You may not think it very feasible for your very own dog to be stricken by this dreadful disease. But, if prevention of heartworm disease is possible, by all means, keep your dog safe from it.