Heartworms come from one source: an infected mosquito and is prevalent in every state. Because there is no way to determine whether a mosquito is carrying this disease, your only course of action as a pet owner is prevention.
Mosquitoes carrying the disease bite your canine; the larvae left behind will grow and transport to all areas of your dog’s body until it reaches maturity and turns into an adult worm eventually taking up shack in your dog’s lungs, heart and blood vessels. The worms will continue to mate and populate within your dog until treatment takes place. Both males and females become full grown around one year old and have a life span of approximately five to seven years.
The severity of your dog’s condition depends upon the number of heartworms are present and at what age he or she was infected. The higher the number of worms, the more severe your dog’s condition will be.
Signs of heartworm may begin benign and then quickly rage out of control. At first mild coughing may be present. As the condition worsens you may notice a decrease in activity level (ranging in extremity) severe coughing and difficulty breathing because the lungs are infected. Hepatomegaly, the increasing of the liver and ascites, the presence of increased fluid in the abdominal area may also occur. Heartworms can ultimately cause death of your dog.
Diagnosis of heartworms is very much influenced by a few factors, the first being keen awareness of your dog’s medical history. Blood tests and extensive physical exams are also necessary. Physical exams will include listening for strange or labored sounds within the lungs and examination of the heart. Your veterinarian may also want to take x-rays of your pet to determine if lungs heart and kidneys show signs of enlargement or bleeding. Ultrasounds are another way to determine if your dog has been exposed and in some cases, only in the cases of autopsies is the condition confirmed.
Treatment of heartworms can be very successful, especially if caught early on. Adult heartworms can be killed using medicine called adulticide has a high success rate. Adulticide therapy uses an FDA approved organic arsenal to kill off the heartworms and is minimally invasive to your dog. Melarsomine dihydrochloride is also used by being injected into your dog’s muscles and is very safe and effective.
Prevention of heartworms is easy and cost-effective. Preventative measures include giving your dog pills orally which can be purchased through your veterinary clinic, applying topical lotions to your pet and now there are injections available that can be given to your dog every six months. Prevention is much cheaper than the cost of heartworm treatment and will save your dog a lot of pain and unnecessary tests, treatments and possible death.
Heartworms cannot be transmitted to human beings or other pets. Constant prevention is necessary because even after treating heartworms your dog can contract the disease again.