Updated on April 7, 2015
What Dog Owners Need to Know About Heartworms
owners tend to be very aware of the possible ailments that dogs are predisposed to every day. They also seem to have a good idea on how to handle such problems even before they affect their pets. When tests show a positive diagnosis, the owner is always handy with the appropriate solution. However, there seems to exist a problem that baffles all of us: heartworms. The issue is that most people who keep dogs underestimate what this condition can do to the pets. They are fleetingly aware of its existence but do not realize that it can cause extreme sickness or even death, so they carry on as if it is just another dog disease.
The damage heartworms do
There is only one cause of heartworms, a bite from an infected mosquito. The tricky bit here is that you do not know how and when this will happen, so you should protect the dog at all times possible. If a dog is bit, the heartworms attach themselves to the blood vessels and start growing slowly. They reproduce around the heart and its cells. If untreated, they cause permanent damage to the cardiovascular system and ultimately, death. The relief here is that there is only one way of your dog being infected and therefore prevention is geared towards avoiding the mosquito.
Note that an infected dog cannot infect another dog. Even if a mosquito that bites an infected dog and then comes to your dog the same night cannot pass on the disease because it has to undergo an incubation period before being capable of spreading the parasite. This worm also cannot be passed on to you if you handle a sick dog. This is because it is only transmissible to cats, ferrets and dogs.
You can give your dog some monthly pills as a preventive measure. You can also use an oral topical to apply on the skin. Finally, you can use an injectable product on your dog every six months. For the one that works on a monthly basis, you must ensure that one dosage follows another to avoid possible relapses. All these solutions are very cheap, and will actually cost you between $70 and $90 the whole year, depending on the size of the dog.
How to detect the disease
What dog owners need to know about heartworms is that they will not manifest themselves for the first few months. When they reproduce enough, the worms will choke up the dog, and you will know because a deep cough starts to grow .You will also notice that the pet is not as energetic as before. As the symptoms advance, water retention starts to occur. Over time, the dog also starts passing out regularly and if no action is taken, it can die.
If you establish that your dog is suffering from heartworms, there are reliable arsenic based products that you can inject it with for two or three times. However, the best way of treatment is by use of X-rays, blood sample and various tests that show how ingrained the worms are. The costs here could become very high, which is why you need to consider prevention first.