7 Facts You Must Know About Heartworms And Your Dog

Posted by Bonnie Senior on 04 December, 2015

Heartworms can be very harmful to your dog. It can cause permanent damage to the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. 

It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause heartworm disease in your dog.


1. Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes

Mosquitoes carry larvae and when your dog is bitten, they become the host. So when the larvae grow up, they are living in your dog's heart, lungs and blood vessels. 


2. Heartworm Disease is not contagious

Rest assured, heartworm is not contagious, but is still very serious.


3. Symptoms to look out for

There are 4 stages of symptoms. 

Stage 1 & 2 can look like:  

  • Coughing
  • Tiring easily with exercise
  • Lethargy or general tiredness
  • Loss of appetite & weight loss
  • An enlarged or swollen abdomen
  • Bleeding from nose 

Stage 3 will include loss of body condition, coughs, tiredness, trouble in brething and signs of heart failure. An x-ray of their chest area will reveal any changes to the heart and lungs.

Stage 4 which is also known as Caval Syndrome, is a critical stage. This is because the blood is now physically blocked by a large mass of worms and cannot travel to the heart. The only treatment option available is immediate surgical removal.

NOTE: This is a very risky surgery, that does not have a high rate of survival success. In addition, not all heartworm disease will necessarily turn into Caval Syndrome, but it will leave permanent damage to the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. 


4. Treating heartworm Disease can be risky and expensive

Treatments can be toxic to your dog and have been known to cause life-threatening blood clots. In addition, while placing a price on your dog is impossible, the amount of visits to the vet, bloodwork, x-rays, hospitalisation, and all the injections will be very expensive 


5. PREVENTION is the best treatment

The worst thing about heartworm is that as you've probably seen from the list of the symptoms, by the time you notice, it may be too late. Fortunately, there are lots of options to prevent heartworm disease, and they all require a prescription from a vet. 

Most products are given as a monthly tablet or topical liquid. Another type of product is an injection that is put in every 6 months or even a year by your vet. 

Please talk to your vet to find out which prevention treatment is best for your dog. 

We have a range of heartworm treatments, but before you consider purchasing, please check with your vet, your dog is most important!!


6. Knowing the types of heartworm disease tests 

The most common test is called an antigen test. This detects for heartworms that are at least 6-7 months old, but can't detect anything less than 5 months. 

There are other tests to discover larvae and other stages of the heartworm to indicate that adult heartworms are present in your dogs bloodstream. 


7. Giving heartworm preventatives to an infected heartworms can be deadly

 PLEASE NOTE: puppies under 6 months can start prevention without a heartworm test. 

However, if your dog is older than 6 months, they MUST get tested for heartworms before you start a prevention program for them. If a dog is given heartworm prevention while they have heartworms in their system, it can kill the heartworms but it will cause a shock to the dog's body which can even cause death, so please check with your vet before taking prevention measures. 


As always, prevention can be done by a simple annual trip to the vet for prevention who can provide yearlong protection to guarantee your dogs happiness and health which is important to the whole family. 

Please don't hesitate and speak to your vet today if you haven't done so recently. 

Information Source: News Mail

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