Heartworm disease, also known as Dirofilariasis, is a severe infection that affects the heart and lungs of your pet. It’s a type of roundworm transmitted by mosquitoes in the United States and Canada, and it’s prevalent in other parts of the world. More than 20 different mosquito species act as intermediate hosts of Dirofilaria immitis.
Heartworms are long worms that can grow up to 14 inches long. They live inside your dog or cat’s heart or main blood vessels until they die, causing damage over time.
The Devastating Consequences of Heartworms
Heartworms are a devastating disease, and they’re also widespread in pets. In fact, it’s estimated that one in three dogs will contract heartworms at some point during their lifetime. And if you live in an area where mosquitoes are prevalent, you must be vigilant about preventing your pet from getting infected.
The worms grow up to 12 inches long, longer than most cats. The larvae burrow into the dog’s heart and lungs. They can live for up to seven years before maturing into adults capable of reproducing worms within the animal’s body.
That’s why keeping these pests out of your pet is so important. When those new babies get bigger, they can get stuck inside blood vessels, leading directly into the brain. This can ultimately lead to strokes in your dog.
Prevention Is Key
One of the most crucial aspects of ensuring your pet’s heart health is understanding that prevention is the safest and most effective path. Heartworm disease is distressing for pets and can be challenging and expensive to treat once an infection occurs.
Preventing heartworm infestations in the first place is the best way to protect your furry friend from this potentially deadly condition.
Fortunately, there are several reliable methods for preventing heartworm disease in pets. These methods are not only proven but are also relatively easy to incorporate into your pet care routine. They include:
Most commonly, veterinarians recommend monthly heartworm preventives. These medications come in various forms. This variety makes it easy to choose the one that suits your pet best.
They kill the immature heartworm larvae to ensure they don’t become adult worms and start reproducing or causing harm. There are different medications available to prevent heartworm. For instance, 0.5 mg/kg moxidectin, in extended-release injectable form, can be 98-100% effective, depending on whether it is administered before or after infection.
According to PetRx, Heartgard is also an excellent option for keeping heartworms out of your dog’s heart. The website states that HeartGard Plus Chew is a monthly medication with a real-beef taste. It is a preventative medication that kills heartworms and prevents them from entering your dog’s body for 30 days.
Whether your pet is suffering from heartworm or wants to prevent that from happening, you can use Heartgard for dogs. However, it is best to consult a veterinarian before using the medication. The veterinarian can help with the exact administration required for your furry friend.
In many regions, heartworms can be a year-round threat. In such locations, providing your pet with continuous protection is essential, not just during the warmer months. Consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate prevention regimen for your pet’s needs.
In addition to medication, simple lifestyle changes can also contribute to heartworm prevention. Reducing your pet’s exposure to mosquito bites can be achieved by keeping your pet indoors during peak mosquito activity times. This will reduce the chances of heartworms as the likelihood of an infected mosquito biting your pet will decrease.
The Benefits of Regular Prevention
Regular heartworm prevention for your beloved pet offers many advantages beyond protecting them from a potentially life-threatening disease. These benefits underscore why making prevention a consistent part of your pet’s healthcare routine is both wise and essential.
First and foremost, regular prevention helps safeguard your pet’s health and well-being. Heartworm disease can be devastating, causing severe damage to a pet’s heart and lungs. By implementing preventive measures, you effectively shield your pet from heartworm infestation’s distressing and often irreversible consequences.
Furthermore, heartworm prevention is cost-effective in the long run. Treating advanced heartworm disease can be expensive, involving multiple veterinary visits, extensive testing, and specialized medications. In contrast, monthly preventive medication costs are significantly lower, making it a financially prudent choice for pet owners.
By preventing the disease from taking hold in the first place, you increase the chances of your pet enjoying a longer, healthier life. That’s because heartworms can be a fatal health problem.
They can lead to severe conditions like heart failure, lung failure, etc. Data shows that over 1,000 dogs die annually from heart failure, lung failure, or other circulatory issues caused by heartworm disease.
The benefits of regular prevention are not just limited to your pet’s physical health; they also encompass their emotional well-being. When pets suffer from illness, they often experience stress and discomfort. Preventing heartworms ensures your pet can live a happier, more comfortable life free from the symptoms and pain associated with heartworm disease.
Consistency in heartworm prevention also strengthens the bond between you and your pet. It demonstrates your commitment to their health and happiness, reinforcing the trust and affection that you share. Your pet will undoubtedly appreciate the care and attention you provide to keep them safe and healthy.
Recognizing the Signs
If your pet has been diagnosed with heartworm disease, it’s essential to understand how to recognize it. If you are quick enough to recognize the problem, the veterinarians will be able to treat the condition quickly.
As stated on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) website, there are four stages of heartworm disease. Class 4 or Caval syndrome is the worst one. In this scenario, the number of worms accumulated in the blood vessels can block blood flow back to the heart. Recognizing and diagnosing heartworm conditions early can help prevent such fatal consequences.
There are many treatment options you can administer yourself. However, it is best to consult with a professional. Additionally, if your animal is pregnant or nursing an infant, talk to your veterinarian before beginning treatment. They will be able to ensure there won’t be any issues related to taking this medication during those stages of life.
As you can see, worms are not something to be taken lightly. They can cause severe damage to your pet’s heart and other organs. So, you must do everything you can to keep them out of their system. If you suspect that worms have infected your dog or cat, they must receive treatment immediately before the problem worsens.