Heartworms are a big problem for pets (especially dogs) and they can be even deadly if they are left untreated (or are treated late).
But how do dogs get heartworms and is there a way to prevent it?
That’s exactly what you will find out in this post – so keep on reading, as some of the information might definitely help your dog’s health.
What are Heartworms and Why they target Dogs?
Heartworms are foot-long worms that live in the heart – hence the name. They’re a serious disease and can be potentially deadly because they can cause heart failure and damage to other organs.
But from all pets, why dogs exactly?
There is one reason why heartworms target dogs.
A dog is a natural host for heartworms because once heartworm starts living inside the dog – it has the ability to mature into an adult, mate, and even re-produce.
That’s also the number one reason why heartworms can be deadly for dogs if they’re not treated on time.
The best solution is to try and prevent heartworms by protecting your dogs, but in case your dog is already suffering from heartworms – treatment should be administered as early as possible.
Best Ways to Prevent Heartworms?
The bad news is that heartworms disease can be transferred from one dog to another, but the good news is that that it can be avoided and treated – in case your dog tests positive.
We highly recommend testing your dog annually for heartworm infections, and it’s even something that is included in most routine visits & checks for preventive care (but this will depend on your veterinarian).
Once you do a regular check-up, the best way to prevent heartworms is to treat your dog with a six-month injectable product.
This will help protect your dog for 6 months, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, so you can also additionally think of using monthly topicals that you can rub into your dog’s skin or monthly pills.
There is no state or country where heartworms aren’t a potential risk. Luckily, there are a couple of ways to actively prevent and avoid heartworms so you can help your dog out.
We hope you understand how dogs get heartworms and that it’s a very serious issue – but what should you do in case your dog has heartworms?
Read on to find out!
How to Treat Heartworms?
If your dog was unlucky and is showing symptoms of heartworms which are often:
- mild persistent cough
- reluctance to exercise
- decreased appetite
- weight loss
you should definitely have your dog checked up (even if you were doing regular annual check-ups).
It’s important to confirm the diagnosis as early as possible. Therefore, restrict your dog’s exercise and stabilize the heartworm disease with the help of proper therapy.
This is an important step before treating your dog with medication and you should consult about this with your veterinary.
Once your veterinary confirms that your dog is ready for the medical treatment – recommended (typical) protocol will involve several steps – depending on the stage of the heartworm disease.
Medication required to treat heartworms usually consists of multiple medications and even injections made to kill adult heartworm.
While orally, your dog is probably going to require doxycycline or prednisone to reduce the chance of side effects of the treatment.
We might never find out all the possible ways of how dogs get heartworms, but on the bright side, there’s a way to prevent and treat heartworm disease so your dogs can stay safe and healthy.
Cover photo from Flickr by “Austin Community College”