Heartworm disease is a disease in dogs that develops when a dog is bitten by a mosquito carrying microscopic heartworm larvae of a parasitic worm known as Dirofilaria immitis. As the mosquito feeds on your dog the larvae are deposited within your dog. They enter through the skin, then travel through the bloodstream and eventually settle and grown in the right side of the heart and the arteries of the lungs. Once there the parasites will grow until they reach a length of 10 to 12 inches at maturity. Heartworm disease causes lung disease and heart failure and is often fatal. While easy to prevent, heartworms continue to be a major health problem for dogs throughout the United States.
Preventing heartworms is as simple as giving your pet a monthly medication containing ivermectin. There are many products on the market that contain ivermectin including chewables and topical treatments. Pet owners can also administer products made with selamectin to prevent heartworm disease, fleas, ticks, earmites and sarcoptic mange all through one monthly topical treatment. These treatments are applied directly to the skin at the base of your dogs neck or between her shoulder blades. These treatments are relatively inexpensive and range in price from $5 – $20 per month depending on the size of your dog. These methods are safe, easy to use and when given on time every month, extremely effective.
Heartworm preventative requires a prescription and none of the preventatives above should be administered without testing your dog beforehand. Veterinarians will give a blood test to your pooch to check for parasites before issuing a prescription. This is important because the medication in these preventatives can cause life-threatening reactions to dogs who already have heartworm disease. If you already take your dog to the Vet for her yearly physical and shots then chances are the Vet is performing a blood test to check for these parasites. That test is all you need for a year long prescription for heartworm preventative. Testing and preventing heartworm could not be easier and is much less expensive than treating your dog for heartworm disease.
If your dog is not currently taking monthly preventative then there are symptoms indicative to heartworms that you can look out for. Dogs may have a frequent and persistent cough, a decrease in energy level, reluctance to exercise, fatigue, decreased appetite and weight loss. Weight loss is often followed by a swollen abdomen caused by a fluid build up in the stomach. Dogs can be infected for years before these symptoms show up. The heartworms themselves do not cause symptoms they are a result of the damage they do to the heart and lungs over the course of the infection. As heartworm disease progresses blood flow through diseased lungs to the heart becomes restricted. This is what causes heart failure and death.
Cases of heartworm disease have been reported in every state in the US; however, they are more prevalent in the southeastern portion of the country. This is partly due to the climate in this region and the number of mosquitoes native to the area. Everyone should treat their dog for heartworms because infected dogs can move into the area with new owners or due to displacement from areas struck by natural disasters. While treatment options vary consistent year round protection is the best course of action. Of dogs exposed to the larvae, 100% become infected. Treatments for the disease can be effective in otherwise healthy dogs; however, they are quite costly and can easily extend into the several thousand dollar range. While heartworm prevention is extremely effective, treatment can be painful, dangerous and in some cases, fatal.
This article was written by the authors at pet-super-store a unique pet shop that offers free-shipping when you buy pet fence.
|By Brian S.
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Heartworm disease is a disease in dogs that develops when a dog is bitten by a mosquito carrying microscopic heartworm larvae of a parasitic worm known as Dirofilaria immitis. What is Heartworm Disease and How Can I Prevent It.
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