Mosquitoes are known to transmit the parasite known as the heartworm among its hosts. Heartworms in canines are a kind of filaris (a long thin worm), and despite being best known for being found in dogs, heartworms can affect a wide variety of other animals, from cats and ferrets to sea lions and even people. The heartworm’s name was derived from the fact that its reproductive cycle’s last stage occurs within the heart of its host.
If untreated, the animal will find exertion more difficult and may faint under physical strain or undergo extreme breathlessness. The parasites can also damage the lungs, kidneys, and liver, causing the death of the animal when these organs or the heart itself fails.
Treatment is lengthy and can take a year and a half to complete. This is usually comprised of several courses of highly potent anti-heartworm medications, including the use of a dangerous arsenic compound, to kill the parasites. In some cases, surgery may be necessary; each of these options may cause the animal great suffering. The animal may be totally asymptomatic for the greatest part of the infection.
A dog heartworm may take 6 to 7 months to move from introduction to the animal’s system via mosquito bite, to its eventual landing in the heart. Fully matured female heart worms may reach a length of 30 centimeters, and males 23 centimeters. Mating occurs after seven months and microfilariae is produced by the females. The spread of mosquito breeding grounds from strictly warm southern climates has lead to an increase in heart worm proliferation.
Prevention measures for heartworms is typically a monthly Prophylactic, such as Heartgard which contains ivermectin – a broad spectrum anti parasite medication. The medicine Heart Guard for heartworm is not very expensive, quite easy to use, and effective as well.
Other heartworm preventatives include milbemycin which can be found in Interceptor heartworm treatment and moxidectin which is the effective ingredient in ProHeart. The most popular of these is Heartgard Plus.
Heartworm and other parasites can also be treated by using a topical application such as Revolution, which is not only a heartworm control, but also a program of flea control and parasite control. Heartworm protection is very effective thankfully, so there is no need for your pet to be adversely affected. Consult your vet to get your dog checked out.
A blood test is the most common diagnostic tool, and medications can prevent and cure the infection if one is discovered. X-rays may be necessary for the vet to see the full extent of infection, should your animal test positive for heartworms. Remember, especially in the case of heartworm infections, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Bring up canine heart worm at your dog’s next routine check up and get the information you need. It will be cheaper and much better for your pet not to risk their health by short term economy.
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