Dog heartworm is a common disease among
canines in the United
States. Discovered in 1856, the worms mainly live in your dog's
heart and major blood vessels.
The worms, especially on worst cases, seriously impair the
heart's operations. Worse, they could also clog your dog's
blood vessels. These infections result to body weight losses,
chronic cough, dropsy, breath shortness, chronic heart failure,
vision disturbances, and ultimately, death.
Since the symptoms of heartworm disease vary among dogs, it
would be best that a veterinarian check your dog to evaluate a
final analysis. Most dogs show visible symptoms only when the
disease has reached the point where it would be almost
improbable to be cured by treatment. To help you see early
symptoms and to hopefully save your dog, look out for these
- Dogs that have been quite active usually tend to be tired
- Dogs that would have been otherwise healthy usually gasp for
- Coughing of your dog has suddenly become a common occurrence.
- Dogs bred for hunting could no longer keep up with rapid
chases and usually fall from exhaustion.
- In some rare instances, the dog experiences convulsions,
jaundice, and problems in the vision.
- Before it dies, the dog experiences emaciation. Often
Who gets infected by the heartworm infection?
Previously, it was thought that only dogs that were long-haired
were more resistant to heartworms because of the high difficulty
of mosquitoes (which bring the worms) to penetrate through the
dogs' hair. Since then, it has been proven that this was not
true. Mosquitoes even have a hard time penetrating through
short-haired dogs. Actually, mosquitoes feed on the abdominal
region of the dog. That is why both long-haired and
short-haired dogs are susceptible to an infection, since both
types have little hair on this region. Some mosquitoes also
feed on the muzzle area or the ears where the dog's hair is
quite matted down.
Can heartworm infection be treated?
Heartworm infection can be treated through chemical therapy if
diagnosed early. Most of the chemical treatments kill the worms
over some period of time. Killing all the worms in one swoop is
no better: If all the heartworms were killed in just one
treatment, the dead bodies would deposit in the lungs and kill
Remember also that the chemicals used in treating the worms are
also as dangerous to your dog as the worms. That is why treating
the disease using chemical therapy should be used with utmost
care and should be handled by a veterinarian.
There also cases when surgery is needed. In most cases, this
could be a feasible option. Consult with the veterinarian if
surgical correction or any other method that can cure the
There are also drugs that cold prevent your dog from getting
heartworms. These drugs attack the parasite in its early stages
and stop the worms from being full-blown adults later. This
doesn't mean that your dog would be free from infection. This
only means that dogs can still get infected during the season
of mosquitoes and yet remain unscathed of heartworms.
Preventative medication using drugs, on the other hand, can
cause serious complications if your dog has already heartworm
infections in a higher level. That is why the use of drugs
should be under the supervision of veterinarians. Taking drugs
are also combined with regular blood texts. This has shown to
be quite effective in saving many dogs with heartworm
In order for your dog to avoid heartworm infection, protect
your pet from mosquito bites especially if there is a high
mosquito population in your area or if it is mosquito season.
You might want to screen the sleeping quarters of your dogs to
avoid repeated bites. Repellent sprays can also be used, but
these only have limited effects.
You might also want to consult your vet fro preventive
medication. In addition, you might want regular blood tests on
your dog to assess early symptoms of infection. This is quite
tricky, especially that the symptoms of heartworm infection
could not be seen immediately.
In short, your pet dog which looked healthy may be having early
symptoms of heartworm infection. It would be best that you
checked. There's nothing wrong in doing that, especially if
that is for your pet dog.
About The Author: Jack Russell is a a long time dog fancier,
visit his Dog Resources Blog and download his Free Dog Owners
Handbook - it's Dog Gone Good!
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