Heartworm is a dangerous disease that no one would want their dogs to suffer from. It is caused by a blood-borne parasitic nematode called Dirofilaria immitis. Mosquitoes transmit this disease by feeding on other infected dogs or cats and transferring the microfilariae to other animals while biting them.
While heartworm is a dangerous disease, the good news is that it can be successfully treated by proper medication in most cases. The success of the treatment varies according to the extent of heartworm infestation and the damage caused by them to a dog’s internal organs. If your dog is showing signs of heartworm disease, you should follow some steps to make sure that your dog becomes healthy again.
Symptoms Of Heartworm Disease
Here are some symptoms that will help you detect if your dog is infected with heartworm disease or not:
- Fainting spells
- Rapid heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Right-sided chronic heart failure
It is very important to understand these symptoms as they indicate an advanced stage of the disease. If you can observe these symptoms in your dog, you should immediately take them to the veterinarian and get all the necessary tests done.
Steps To Follow If Your Dog Is Heartworm Positive
Is your dog heartworm positive? What next? Don’t worry; we have listed the exact steps you should follow once your dog is tested positive for heartworm disease.
Diagnose the Infestation
It would help if you got the dog tested with an antigen test. You can even go for some additional tests apart from antigen tests. Since the treatment for heartworm disease is generally expensive, it is better to be sure that your dog is infected or not. That is why it is also recommended to get your dog tested regularly. Catching heartworm infestation early is crucial for the success of its treatment.
Restrict Physical Activities
Restricting the dog from playing and running around is extremely important. It could be difficult, especially if your dog is very active. However, it is essential to restrict the normal physical activities of your dog once tested positive for heartworm. Physical exercises can increase the rate of damage to the lungs and heart.
Stabilize the disease
Even before the treatment begins, you should make extra efforts to stabilize the disease. This can be done by appropriate therapy. In some cases, heartworm diseases can take up to a year to cure. If the dog is suffering from some other disease, it might take longer than usual to cure it.
The veterinarian will examine your dog and then give a green signal for treatment only when it is stable and fully ready for the treatment. The veterinarian will suggest several steps in treatment protocols that you must follow.
Dogs with mild symptoms such as exercise intolerance or cough generally have a higher success rate. However, for dogs that have severe symptoms then, the complications are increased. It is important to note that the severity of the disease does not always correlate to the severity of the symptoms. Dogs can have little to no symptoms even when they have many worms.
It generally takes around six months for the dogs to recover from the disease completely. Veterinarians generally conduct a test to ensure that all the heartworms are removed. This final test is important because it avoids the possibility of the dog getting infected again with the disease. However, you should conduct regular tests throughout the dog’s lifetime to make sure that it doesn’t get infected again.
Prevention of Heartworm Disease
Prevention is always better than cure. It is important to prevent heartworm disease in the first place. Treatment of heartworm is not only time-consuming but also very expensive. Moreover, the disease can cause irreversible damage to your dog’s internal organs, affecting its lifespan. Here is how you can prevent heartworm diseases in dogs:
To prevent heartworm disease in dogs, you can use a veterinarian, EPA, and FDA-approved medications such as Heartgard Plus chewables to protect your dog from dangerous parasites, including roundworms, heartworms, ascarids, and hookworms. These medicines are effective and are taken monthly to prevent diseases like heartworms.
Since these medicines are preventative drugs, you should only use them on dogs that have not been diagnosed with an infection. Before giving these medications to the dog, make sure that your dog is tested first. These medications are given orally once every month to ensure that worms don’t attack your dog for 30 days. You can give these with dog food.
Another preventative step that you can use is regular testing. It would help if you took your dog to the veterinarian regularly to ensure that they are free from heartworm disease.
Prevention medications can easily prevent heartworm. In case you are not given any preventative medications, you can schedule an appointment with the veterinarian and follow the required precautions to prevent your dog from heartworm diseases.
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