No matter what type of breed you have, or where you live, heartworms are a threat to your dog. Heartworms are exactly what they sound like: worms that live in your dog’s heart. As you might expect, this condition is very costly, and extremely dangerous for your furry friend. Fortunately, it is also relatively easy to prevent. Here is everything you need to know about dogs and heartworms:
How do dogs get heartworms? There are many myths surrounding the spread of heartworms, but the truth is that they can only be spread in one way – by mosquito. This means that your dog cannot give it to other dogs, or to you. If a mosquito infected with heartworm larva bites your dog – and one bite is all it takes – then your dog can become infected. Unfortunately, mosquitoes are everywhere, and there is no way to tell which mosquitoes are infected and which aren’t. That is why prevention is so important.
What are the symptoms of heartworm infection? The worst thing about heartworm infection is that it often takes a long time for symptoms to present, which means you won’t know your dog has heartworms until the condition has progressed enough to cause health problems. The earliest symptoms are shortness of breath and coughing. Eventually, your dog could lose energy and not be able to exercise, and may even pass out from lack of blood flow. If left untreated heartworms can lead to death.
How do you treat heartworms? The best way to treat heartworms is with a drug called Immiticide. This drug is delivered in a series of three injections; however, there are two ways to proceed with treatment. The most preferable (and safest) way is to run a course of pre-treatment prep work, including x-rays and blood work, in order to determine the seriousness of the case before giving the drug. This method is rather expensive (around $1000), so it is not unusual for dog owners to forego this step and proceed straight to the injections, which cost around $300.
How do you prevent heartworms? Of course, the best approach to heartworms is prevention. You have a few options when it comes to prevention: monthly topical treatments, monthly pills, or twice-yearly injections. The great news is that these treatments are extremely inexpensive (less than $100 for an entire year’s treatment) and easy to administer.
If your dog has heartworms, then you should know that the condition can be successfully treated, as long as you catch it in time. Therefore, you should pay close attention to signs that your furry friend may have contracted this troublesome infection.
About the Author: Bok Leikam just adopted a new puppy and the vet put him on heartworm meds right away. He orders his petmeds online to keep costs low and spends a great deal of time caring for his new family member.