Although heartworm can be one of the most serious diseases a dog can get, there are prevention methods to help keep your family pet safe. Some are more than effective than others but it is important to understand heartworm so you can spot the early signs and try to make sure your dog is protected. We’re going to take a look at some of the most cause as well as other useful information. If you are worried about heartworm in dogs then the following can help you be better prepared.
What Is Heartworm In Dogs?
Much like a roundworm, these are parasites that can live inside a dog for up to 7 years. When fully grown they resemble spaghetti and can cause infections in various places from a dog’s muscles to their heart. The females can reach up to 12 inches in length with males around 9 inches and they can cause great discomfort and a lot worse.
One thing that is true about them is that it can be difficult and costly to cure once it takes hold of your dog but prevention is easy and cost-effective.
How Does A Heartworm Get Into A Dog?
Thes pests are transmitted into a dog via an infected mosquito. Larvae can only mature and are transmitted via these flying pests to a variety of pets including dogs cats and other furry animals. Luckily this means that a dog cannot get heartworm from another dog but once inside a dog, they only take 6 months to reach adult size. From there, heartworms can breed and create more which worsens the problem.
Once in, they can lodge around the heart and a dog could have up to 250 worms in their system before too long.
Where Is Heartworm Most Common?
It is hard to say the exact places but there are many cases in the warmer climates of Southern America. Although they have been found all over the States, the South does have a higher amount of cases than most.
Heartworm can also be an issue in some shelters where they do not have the funds to pay for prevention or treatment. It should not put someone off adopting a dog although they must be committed to paying for treatment as it can be fatal for dogs.
Can A Human Get Heartworm From A Dog?
The only way heartworm can be transmitted is via an infected mosquito. Therefore, any dog with heartworm does not pose a threat of infection to humans or other dogs. Although they can infect humans via mosquitoes, cases are rare.
What Are The Symptoms?
It will take a while for the symptoms to show but because these worms target the lungs, an initial symptom is usually a cough, especially as they breed and multiple. As the condition worsens they will also become fatigued much easier and may need to pause during exercise. Although some of the other symptoms are quite universal and could mean your dog is suffering from something else, other common signs of heartworm include a lack of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, difficulty breathing, and fainting.
How To Prevent Heartworm In Dogs
Although it can be uncommon in some parts, it is. still something many dog owners wisely choose to protect their beloved pets from. The easiest way to stop it from taking hold of a dog is via a quality heartworm prevention for dogs. Most of the time, these products are easy to administer, often with a droplet that can be placed on the fur. or via. a chew that is easy to mix in with their meal of hidden inside a piece of chicken breast for them to gobble up.
Some of the better products will offer months of protection at a time and at worst, it will be a matter of repeating the process monthly to be sure the dog is always protected. You will often find that they kill mosquitoes on impact and can protect against other nasties as well. Expect the best heartworm prevention for dogs to keep fleas and ticks away as well.
It is best to find a product that is fast-acting so you can rest easy knowing your dog has protection. Make sure the product you buy is suitable for their breed as they come in different strengths that are appropriate for different sized dogs. Although the mosquitoes are most common in the warmer months, it is a good idea to keep them protected all year round, plus they will also have the benefit of being able to keep ticks and fleas away.
Is It Expensive To Treat Heartworm?
Usually, treatment involves a set of injections that work to kill the heartworm. However, a lot of the time the most thorough way to treat heartworm involves x-rays and blood tests among other prep work and appointments. It is easy for this set of treatment to rack up bills close to $1,000 although the treatment alone might be half that depending on the prices in your area.
After the treatment, the worms die but can cause blockages in key vessels which can cause a dog to die. This is why vets recommend that a dog’s activity is kept to an absolute minimum as the worms pass through their system. Too much exercise can lead to clogging which is one of the most common ways heartworm can cause death in dogs.
Can A Dog Get Heartworm Twice?
After the set of treatment, a dog might be completely cured yet be reinfected if they are bitten by an infected mosquito at a later date. This is why it is best to make sure your dog always has protection from this potentially deadly infection.
Can A Dog Get Rid Of Heartworm Without Treatment?
Unfortunately not. Because heartworm breeds and multiples inside a dog, the condition only worsens. The only way to treat it is by consulting your vet and making sure you get your dog the right course of injections they need. Again, this is why prevention is so important.