Dog heartworm disease is a potentially very serious threat to your dog, can prove to be fatal,and on top of all this, dogs are the definitive host for heart-worms.
The mosquito is the carrier of this disease.
Prevention of this disease by all dog owners is a must, it can be that severe. Prevention with supplements has also shown to be extremely effective in preventing this disease.
The severity of dog heartworm disease that your pet may encounter will depend entirely on the number of adult heartworm that affects your dog.
Severe heart and lung changes can occur very rapidly in dogs with several worms present in their body
Heart-worms are a parasite that is called “dirofilaria immitis” and are about the size of a very thin piece of spaghetti.
They will live and virtually thrive in the right side of your dog’s heart and nearby blood vessels.
There are several forms of medications that your dog can take as preemptive steps to ward off this disease.
However, it is important to mention that in this or any other disease that deals with parasites and other like infections, the question is how strong is your dogs immune system.
The immune system in dogs is a complex system that when functioning properly fights off bacteria, parasites, fungi, and infections.
Critical nutrients and supplementation of those nutrients to stimulate the immune system are a must to keep it functioning properly.
Vitamins A, C, E and essential fatty acids, as well as minerals that include manganese, selenium, zinc, copper and iron, all help to build and maintain the immune system.
In this disease, the mosquito will inject the larvae of this parasite from the heart worm into your dog’s skin when it is bitten.
Although it is thought to be a disease isolated just to mosquito heavy areas, it is actually a serious threat in all 50 states and in most countries other than very frigid environments.
What makes this disease such a serious threat to you pet is that this parasite will reside primarily in your dog’s heart or in their lungs.
Normally, however, until the number of mature heart-worms grows to over 50 in a dog with an average weight of 55 pounds, or 25-kg, most all of the worms will live and mature.
They will then grow in the lower lung lobes, primarily in the lower pulmonary arteries.
When this disease grows past this number, the worms may also spread into the right chambers of the heart.
When this parasite resides only in the lungs, it will place a lot of pressure on your pet’s ability to breathe properly.
This is due to the inflammatory battle that is basically happening because of the presence of these worms, or parasites.
Even though the worms may not spread in the heart in dog heartworm disease, the heart may enlarge and become weak.
The reason for this is large workload that it is undertaking in the battle against this parasite, and congestive heart failure may occur.
In the severest of cases with this disease, if the worms spread past the heart and into the caudal vena cave, which is the large primary vein of your pet’s lower body and lies between the liver and the heart.
If not immediately removed through surgery, your dog may face death within three days of this invasion.
In dog heartworm disease, once the host (your dog) has been infected, it may take between six and seven months for these larvae from the mosquito that has bitten your dog, to enter into the pet’s body.
Once in your dog, both the male and female versions will start to grow.
The male form of this parasite can grow up to 6 inches in length, while the female, can grow to almost 12 inches.
What is even more frightening for you dog, is that they can live in your pet for up to seven full years.
In some recent testing in dog heartworm disease, it was found that up to 90% of the larvae from the mosquito can mature to adults, and the number of worms can become very, very high, up to 250 worms in some cases.
This disease is something that should be treated very seriously and regular visits for checkups to your veterinarian and regular heartworm preventive treatment.
However you should also be building your pet’s immune system through vitamin supplementation is a must to prevent this potentially fatal disease.
Detecting dog heartworm disease is not nearly as difficult as cat’s heartworm disease, where the disease may closely resemble asthma.
Dogs can get asthma, but not anywhere near the frequency that cats can.
If your dog shows signs of frequent coughing and labored breathing, suddenly becomes lethargic and or tires very easily, especially in working or hunting dogs, these are all signs of dog heartworm disease.
With advanced dog heartworm disease, there may be an accumulating of fluid in the abdomen.
This is a real warning sign that the disease has become severe, and at this stage damage to vital organs of your dog may be so bad that they become very weak, have trouble breathing, and may faint.
At this stage, recovery is very rare.
By far and away the best way for treating dog heartworm disease is preventing it, but catching it very early will possibly save your dogs life.
Older forms of treatment include the usage of organic arsenical, a drug that is carefully placed intravenously by your veterinarian by a series of injections.
Immiticide, a newer treatment, is given intramuscular unto your dogs lumbar muscles, and is considered much safer and has a lot fewer side effects.
Prevention is a must for all dog owners, and there are several types of prophylactic heartworm medications available.
A prophylactic medication is simply a preventive measure, and comes from the Greek definition for “an advanced guard”.
This is definitive to fend off a disease or an unwanted consequence, which is exactly what all dog owners should do with dog heartworm disease.
Some of the most commonly used forms of prevention are Heart Guard Interceptor which is a tablet administered monthly.
Revolution and Moxidectin which are topical that are applied monthly, and Diethylcarbamazine, which is administered daily, is very effective and been around for over 20 years.
Other very good brands include Iverhart Plus and Iverhart Max by Virbac, and Tri-Heart Plus by Schering-Plough, which was one of the first to be approved for heartworm protection.
There are some herbal remedies for heart worms such as cloves, which is an antibacterial spice very effective with parasites and Neem, which is a popular wood known for anti-worm properties.
Ruta Gravolens which
is well known for promoting digestive and systemic cleaning is also very effective.