Heartworm is a serious, often fatal disease and is one of the worst diseases your dog can face. Luckily, it’s easy to prevent heartworm and it takes nothing more than a pill, food additive, and preventive care. You can purchase a heartworm pill to give to your hunting dog as a “treat,” or get liquid or powder additives to put into your dog’s food regularly (weekly, monthly, etc. depending on the treatment).
Heartworm can live in the dog’s body and work its way into all major organs and tissue, and finally the heart, which is what kills the animal. Heartworm is a parasite and mosquitoes are often to blame because they carry heartworm. However, your dog can also get heartworm from other animals like foxes and coyotes.
Preventing is the easiest way to “treat” heartworm. As said earlier, getting protection is as easy as giving him a pill, adding something to his food, and keeping his home (and him) clean. While it’s common to treat heartworm only in the warmer months, many people have found that doing it year-round is both easier and more effective. Veterinarians agree.
Symptoms of Heartworm
One of the first signs of a heartworm infestation you may notice is your pet loses weight. This may also be accompanied by a lack of energy. Often once the heartworm infection moves into the dog’s lungs then you’ll notice excessive coughing. You should be aware that unfortunately heartworm infections are almost not detectable during the first few months because they aren’t causing any specific problems. This is one of the reasons why preventative medications are so critical to your dogs health.
Typically a veterinarian will do a ‘double’ test to determine if the infection from heartworm is male or female as this does affect how it is treated. Normal heartworm tests are typically blood tests that may involve observation at the clinic. Test help determine how advanced the heartworm infection is by testing for an approximate heartworm count.
After diagnosis, heartworm treatment must begin right away. Otherwise, the infected dog can spread the disease to other dogs. Treatment will vary depending on worm count and the stage of the disease. An otherwise healthy dog will most likely live through the treatment, but an unhealth one has almost no chance of surviving. Treatment may not work if the parasites have affected too many organs or if the worm count has become too high. Prevention and early treatment is the best way to treat heartworm.
If any other dogs are living with or around the infected dog, they should be tested immediately for heartworm as well. It spreads quickly from one dog to the next, so testing is important. People should be tested as well, as humans are also capable of getting heartworm.
While heartworm is a potentially deadly parasite, prevention is the secret to keeping your dog from contracting it.
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