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All You Need to Know about Heartworm Disease in Dogs



Heartworm disease is one of the most dangerous and potentially fatal diseases found usually in cats and dogs. It sounds strange, but it is really caused by foot long heartworms living in different organs of an animals’ body. It can be extremely threatening with serious heart and lungs’ condition, and even poses a high risk of heart failure.

There are several animals which carry heartworms in their body, but dogs are said to be the natural hosts of them. Heartworms live for years in dogs’ body, mate and reproduce, and nurture hundreds of worms in their body at one time.

Heartworm disease troubles a dog a lot during the suffering days, but can also leave lasting effects to keep the animal pained even after the parasites have been removed.

How the Disease Spreads?

The tiny, notorious creature – mosquito is the main culprit behind the spread of this disease. It works as a transporter of the parasite from one animal’s body to another.

The worms living in a host’s body produce microfilaria – the microscopic larvae of the worms. These larvae travel to the bloodstream, and when a mosquito takes its lunch out of the host’s body, it takes the larvae along, which take around two weeks to grow into a stage where they are capable of infecting other animals. When the carrying mosquito bites another disease-prone animal, the larvae are transmitted. Inside the new host’s body, these larvae take a few months before troubling the animal seriously. Once inside, these worms live from 2 to 7 years depending on the animal.

How to Know If My Pet Dog is Infected?

It takes very long for a dog to show the signs of having heartworms in the body. Since the disease takes time to develop, it doesn’t show radiant signs for the owner to come to know about it. However, some ordinarily occurring signs like slight tenacious cough, gradual weight loss and swollen belly may be able to pick your attention at some time. A suffering dog would usually not be interested in doing any effort taking work, or even in a slight workout sometime.

Unfortunately, a normal looking dog may also fall victim to a very sudden shot of the heartworms and get very serious out of nowhere.  These heartworms may come in the way of the flowing blood and create cardiovascular issues. This may ultimately bring a condition called Caval Syndrome, even a slight mishandling of which only a few dogs survive.

Don’t wait for the symptoms to get loud on the dog, or wait for an awkward moment, there are medical examinations that you can perform and confirm the presence of heartworms.

Is it Possible to Perform Heartworm Tests for Dogs at Home?

In spite of the facts that performing heartworm tests for dogs at home is possible, and also there are many testing kits available to guide you through the whole testing procedure, it is still not recommended that you do the tests at home. The tests have many aspects to be understood and you are likely to misinterpret the results. In case you perform the tests at home, must discuss the result with your veterinarian to guarantee your dog’s health.

The test’s results can be false negative for many reasons. Like if your dog has only the initial stages of the worms living, or there are only male worms inside, the test may result false negative. You would not be able to figure out the possibilities for the test to have been false, this will be disastrous to your dog’s health.

Other than that, there comes a need to follow up the test with other examinations like concentration and filter tests, which your veterinarian can better guide you with.

How to Prevent From the Disease?

Over a million dogs have been infected by the parasite in the US, the number is eye-widening. Paying concerns to the number, it is very important to take the preventive measures all the time, rather than thinking about applying the safety only warm-weather, mosquito breeding months.

Prevention is literally better than cure. Heartworm disease is much too easy and less costly as compared to its treatment. Other than practical preventive measures to keep the dog safe from the larvae carrying mosquitoes, dog owners can ask their veterinarians to suggest available medications which are available in many forms like injectable and pills.

To better take care of your dog, below are some bullet points that you can follow and keep your dog healthy:

Have an annual checkup of heartworm disease for your dog

Don’t be complacent about the absence of mosquitoes for a long time or your dog looking healthy, Heartworm Test For Dogs at Home.

Must get the product you use as the disease preventive checked by your veterinarian to know if it is useful or not

Make your dog regularly follow its routine with food, exercise and medication.