Heartworm, Is Your Dog at Risk?
Heartworm is a highly preventable disease that can occur in your dog. Once
contracted it is difficult and expensive to treat.
Cause: The cause of heartworm is the mosquito. If there are mosquito's around,
even if you live in a desert region, there is a chance that your pets will
Transmission: The transmission of Heartworm to your pets is through the bite
of a mosquito. When a mosquito is taking a blood meal from an infected dog,
it will picks up the microfilaria (baby heartworm.) Within the mosquito, the
microfilaria will then go through their life-cycle to the infective stage.
After this they can infect other animals.
Life Cycle: Adult heartworm are found primarily in the right ventricle and
adjacent vessels of a dogs heart. Here they produce larvae called microfilaria,
a microscopic creature that circulates through the dog's blood vessels until
they are once again picked up by a feeding mosquito.
Once in the mosquito, the microfilaria will develop into their second and
third stages taking any where from within 14 to 21 days. The third stage is
the larvae that is then re-deposited in the dog during a mosquito bite (feeding).
The larvae then migrates to the fat or muscle cells in the subcutaneous tissues.
There they mold again to the fourth and fifth larval stages. In three months
they begin to migrate to the right ventricle of the dog's heart where they
finish maturing. Female heartworm then begin to produce a new population of
microfilaria about six to seven months after the initial infections.
Symptoms: A dog may have heartworm disease for six months and an owner will
not know he has it as the symptoms may be very subtle. Since the disease affects
the heart, lungs, kidney or liver, your dog may have low tolerance for exercise,
loss of appetite, listlessness, persistent coughing and difficulty breathing
even while resting. Other symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, yellowing
of the gums and eyes (jaundice).
Once symptoms are present, the disease has advanced to the point where successful
treatment is reduced and death is possible. Consult your veterinarian if you
suspect your dog to be infected.
Treatment: It is recommend dogs be tested annually for heartworm. There
are two types of heartworm medicine available for dogs, the daily dosage and
the monthly dosage. Daily preventatives have an active ingredient of Diethycarbamazine
(DEC) and come in chewable, pills and liquids. Treatment should be started
one month prior to mosquito season and given daily to two months after the
last exposure to mosquitoes. Monthly heartworm preventives are Ivermectin
(Heartgard) and Milbemycin oxime (interceptor).
For more information check out the following sites:
Dog Emergencies Accidents and
Signs and Symptoms of Parasites in Dogs
The 4 Ultimate Dog Care Tips
Using Ivermectin for Dogs to Treat Mange