Heartworm disease is an illness that can be fatal in dogs if it’s left untreated. Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes, which carry the larvae of a worm called Dirofilaria immitis.
If your dog becomes infected with heartworms, they will develop into adult worms in their heart, lungs, and arteries within six months. If you want to prevent this critical illness from affecting your pet dog, there are several things you can do:
Know the Symptoms
While some symptoms are more obvious than others, it’s important to note that a dog may not show any signs of heartworm disease. Most dogs infected with heartworms will only experience mild symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing. But some may not even show any symptoms at all. The severity of these symptoms depends on the number of worms in your pet’s body.
Those exhibiting symptoms usually appear within three months after the mosquito bite that transmitted the parasite from its host to your pet. When your dog is infected with heartworms, its immune system triggers an inflammatory response, which causes swelling around the major blood vessels in its lungs.
This inflammation can lead to severe tissue damage if left untreated over time, and if it does become severe enough, it could be fatal for your pup.
Bring Your Dog to the Vet at Least Once a Year for a Heartworm Test
Heartworm testing is a simple blood test that can be done at any vet, and it’s necessary to test for heartworm disease because it can be fatal if left untreated. Your vet gets their blood drawn and sent off to a medical lab, where the results will tell whether or not heartworms have infected them. The number of worms in your dog’s system will determine the severity of their case and the treatment they need.
If your dog has been infected, the next step is treating them. The treatment for heartworm disease can be a bit costly, but it’s worth it to keep your dog alive.
Heartworm disease is a widespread problem in the United States, and it’s only getting worse. According to Kansas State University, in 2021, more than 1 million dogs had heartworm in the US. If you want your dog to live a long and healthy life, you must ensure they are protected from this deadly disease.
Give Your Dog Heartworm Medication All Year Round
Most people know that heartworm medication needs to be given monthly, but many are unaware that it needs to be given every month for the dog’s entire life. Thus, even if you live in an area where heartworm disease is not common, it’s important to continue giving Heartgard plus chewable for dogs to pet year-round.
The mosquito bite could infect him with the disease at any time. Heartworm-preventative medications are available over-the-counter and can even be purchased online if you don’t have access to your veterinarian.
Keep Your Yard Free of Standing Water
To prevent mosquitoes from breeding and spreading heartworm disease to your pet, you must ensure that your yard is free of standing water. Mosquitoes breed in small amounts of standing water, such as rain gutters and flower pots.
If there are mosquitoes in your neighborhood, they will be attracted to your yard because of the mosquito-friendly environment. It is why mosquito control is necessary for preventing heartworm disease in dogs. It keeps them from being bitten by infected mosquitoes and becoming ill themselves.
Avoid Contact with Wild Animals and Other Dogs Who May Be Infected
To prevent heartworm disease, you should keep your dog away from other animals that may have it. For example, do not let your dog play with other dogs. Doing so could increase your dog’s risk of contracting heartworm if the other animals are infected.
In addition, even if the animal does not have heartworms, there is always a chance that the animal can still give their fleas and ticks, resulting in an infection of other parasites.
Additionally, ensure not to allow your pet outdoors without supervision when accessing areas where wild animals live. It includes visiting friends who also have pets or visiting their yards while they are outside exploring. It’s best for your and their safety that you keep both leashed during these times because there could be an increased chance of exposure if either one gets loose.
Visit a Vet Immediately if You Notice Anything Unusual With Their Behavior or Health
The best way to prevent heartworm disease is by taking your dog to the vet for regular checkups. Knowing the signs of heartworm disease will mean you can take them in for treatment before it becomes too late. According to American Veterinary Medical Association, adult heartworms may survive for 5-7 years in dogs.
If your dog is coughing or having trouble breathing, is lethargic, and/or losing weight, this could be a sign that they have heartworm disease. If you notice these symptoms in your pet dog, immediately take them to the vet. They must get treated right away so that they don’t suffer further health issues down the line.
Talk to your vet about getting your dog on a monthly heartworm prevention medication if you’re looking for a way to prevent heartworm disease. It will ensure that they don’t get infected with the disease in the future.
Don’t Let Mosquitoes in Your House
Mosquitoes can breed in any water source, including pools and birdbaths. Therefore, it’s important to empty these as soon as possible. Mosquito repellent is also a good idea, especially if you live in areas where mosquitoes are more common and have a higher risk of being bitten by one. If you have a pool, cover it when not in use and ensure that no standing water remains on the surface.
Mosquitoes are harmful not only to dogs but also to humans. In addition, several critical health conditions are associated with mosquitoes, including malaria. Therefore, it’s favorable for all to use techniques to keep them away. Mosquito repellent is one such idea. According to Statista, more than 195 million people in the US use mosquito repellent to eliminate mosquitoes from their places.
Letting your dog run free outside where mosquitoes can also lead to problems. They have an increased chance of contracting heartworm disease and could also bring home fleas or ticks which carry diseases like Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Thus, it’s better to keep them inside and away from potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Heartworm Disease Can be Fatal if Left Untreated
Heartworm disease is a critical condition that can be life-threatening if left untreated. Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes that carry the parasites that cause it when they bite your pet. Your dog must be treated with medication for at least six months to destroy all the worms in his body.
Heartworm disease can be fatal if left untreated. But with the proper treatment and medication, your dog can live a healthy life. It’s crucial to keep them away from areas where mosquitoes live so they don’t get infected in the first place.