Heartworms In Dogs What They Are What To Do

Heartworms In Dogs What They Are What To Do



Heartworms (Latin name Dirofilaria immitis) are parasitic worms that are common in​ both dogs and cats. Like their name suggests,​ they live in​ the​ dog’s heart,​ normally free-floating in​ the​ right ventricle and nearby blood vessels. the​ worms are transmitted from dog to​ dog by mosquitoes which pass the​ worm larvae through their saliva. the​ presence of​ heartworms can be very dangerous to​ the​ dog’s health. Although the​ dog will not display signs of​ infection until it​ has progressed considerably,​ heartworms can be life threatening and are sometimes difficult to​ detect and diagnose.

Signs of​ Heartworm Infection

When a​ dog is​ first infected with heartworms,​ there are literally no signs and the​ presence of​ heartworms can not be detected even with a​ blood test. Once the​ worm larva reaches the​ heart and matures,​ however,​ signs that are detectible by X-ray start to​ develop almost immediately. These include damage to​ the​ blood vessels around the​ heart and lungs. it​ is​ rare that a​ dog will be infected by only one worm and as​ the​ mature worms in​ the​ heart grow in​ size and number,​ the​ conditions worsen,​ eventually causing a​ blockage of​ blood flow. it​ is​ at​ this point that the​ dog will start to​ display physical signs which can include pain,​ hypertension,​ difficulty breathing,​ lethargy or​ even fainting. in​ extremely progressed cases the​ dog can suffer from heart failure and death although by the​ time the​ heartworm disease has reached this stage the​ owner has probably realized that something is​ going on​ and sought veterinary care.

Treating Heartworm Infection

Once a​ dog has been diagnosed as​ having heartworms,​ treatment must be started. What this treatment is​ and how it​ is​ administered is​ dependant on​ the​ stage of​ heartworm infection. Generally,​ there are four stages of​ heartworm disease.

• Stage One – Dogs at​ the​ lowest risk – heartworms are detected in​ X-rays but all other tests appear normal.

• Stage Two – Dogs are moderately infected,​ may have some difficulty breathing and be demonstrating coughing

• Stage Three – Dogs are severely affected & may display weight loss,​ have difficulty breathing,​ blood tests likely show kidney and/or liver damage

• Stage Four – Dogs have Vena Cava Syndrome and are in​ shock,​ essentially dying – surgery may be undertaken to​ remove worms,​ but there is​ no guarantee that it​ will save the​ dog.

When it​ comes to​ heartworms in​ dogs,​ prevention truly is​ the​ best medicine. the​ best time to​ begin a​ preventative treatment is​ early in​ puppy-hood,​ before the​ dog is​ seven months old since dogs older than seven months are at​ a​ great risk for adverse reactions to​ the​ preventative treatments.




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