Every summer, the news media is awash with headlines about annoying and irritating mosquitoes transmitting the disease to humans. It should come as no surprise that these insects are not only a bother to us, but also pose a major health risk to our loving pets.
Heartworm disease in dogs and cats is a tough to cure and potentially lethal disease spread by mosquitoes. This is why avoiding the problem altogether is much easier and more successful. You’re probably aware of the importance of heartworm prevention as a pet parent. Before we go into the things you need to know about prevention, let’s take a look at this condition, how it occurs, the symptoms it causes, and how it can be treated.
What is heartworm and how does it spread?
Heartworms, also known as Dirofilariaimmitis, are found in dogs and cats and spend their adult lives in the blood arteries that connect the heart and lungs, as well as in the heart itself in more severe instances. As a result, people may be curious as to how they got there. The activity of mosquitoes feeds the heartworm disease cycle. Adult heartworms lay microfilariae, which are small larvae that move through the bloodstream. The larvae are transferred through the skin when a mosquito sucks blood from an infected animal and then bites its next victim. These larvae eventually find their way to the heart or lungs chambers, where they mature into adults. They can grow up to 10–12 inches in length and wreak havoc on your pet’s internal organs.
♦ Symptoms ♦
Breathing difficulties, coughing, reduced appetite, weight loss, and lethargy are some of the most common symptoms in dogs. These symptoms could be mistaken for others and should drive you to your primary care veterinarian. Similarly, vomiting, gagging, difficulties or fast breathing, lethargy, and weight loss are non-specific symptoms in cats. The symptoms of the first stage of heartworm illness are frequently misdiagnosed as feline asthma or allergic bronchitis.
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♦ Treatment ♦
With the exception of highly severe infections, most cases of heartworm in dogs can be effectively treated. It’s a time-consuming and costly procedure that will necessitate a series of treatments spread out over a few months. Adult heartworms in dogs are eliminated by injecting a chemical known as an adulticide into the muscle. Although treatment can be given in the outpatient setting, hospitalization is frequently recommended. During the healing time, your dog’s physical activity should be limited to leash walking. This reduces the likelihood of dead worms obstructing blood flow via the lungs. To avoid heartworm reinfection and to destroy any larvae that may be present, preventive treatments are also given.
♦ Prevention ♦
The simple truth is that prevention is far simpler than treatment, and it entails:
Get Rid of Mosquito Bites
While keeping your pet indoors in the late afternoon and evening may reduce the risk, we all know that mosquito bites cannot be completely avoided. Spraying the lawn and removing standing water can assist, but they won’t totally remove the danger.
Use the Right Solution
Heartworm prevention is safe, simple, and inexpensive, and when used correctly, it can be very effective. Heartgard Plus (Chewables), Interceptor Spectrum (Chewables), Revolution (Spot-on), Credelio Plus (Chewables), Advantage Multi/Advocate (Spot-on), Nexgard Spectra (Chewables), and more heartworm prevention solutions are available.
Look More: How to Recognize Heartworms in Dogs?
Only the heartworm larvae that have infected the dog in the previous one to two months are killed by heartworm preventatives. Any larvae that have been in your dog for a longer period of time are more likely to survive the treatment and mature into adult worms that will need to be treated with an adulticide. Some heartworm preventives just protect pets from heartworms, while others protect pets from heartworms and intestinal parasites, as well as heartworms, intestinal worms, fleas, ticks, and mites. Because veterinarians are familiar with the parasites that are prevalent in the area where they practice, pet parents should consult with their veterinarian about which product or products are best for their pets.
Heartworm is a disease that can be easily prevented. Please make an appointment as soon as possible if your pet is not currently on a veterinarian-recommended heartworm prevention treatment. There’s no need for your pet to get heartworm disease when it’s so simple to avoid.