Preventing your dog from contracting heartworm disease in the first place is the greatest approach to protecting him from the condition. Additionally, prevention is as simple as maintaining a regimen of monthly prescription medicine and yearly testing.
Not to add that, should your dog ever contract the ailment, treating it is far simpler, less expensive, and less time-consuming.
How Heartworms Infect Dogs
Through 2022, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) anticipates an increase in heartworm disease cases compared to the national average. The CAPC’s 2022 Annual Pet Parasite Forecast indicates that.
Hence, it is very important to take preventive measures for your fur friend. It’s critical to understand how dogs contract heartworm illnesses in order to prevent it later on. Mosquitoes can transmit heartworm disease, a very dangerous and sometimes fatal parasite infection in your dog’s heart.
When an infected mosquito bites your dog, the mosquito releases heartworm larvae on your dog’s skin, and the larvae then pass through the wound into your dog’s body. Mosquitoes pick up the worm eggs when they feed on an affected animal, and after about 10-14 days, the larvae have developed into the “infectious stage” and can spread the disease to other mosquitoes.
The larvae will grow as they move through your puppy’s body and end up in his pulmonary circulation, where they can cause heart problems, kidney problems, clots, and sometimes even heart failure.
What You Should Know About Dog Heartworm Prevention
The most crucial steps in preventing your dog from contracting heartworm are routine testing and ongoing medication:
Canine Heartworm Prevention Drugs
It’s not possible to buy preventative heartworm medicine for dogs over the counter; you must first speak with your veterinarian.
Every preventative medication on the market needs a prescription from your veterinarian. These drugs stop heartworm by eradicating the parasites in your dog’s body while they are still larval before they have a chance to actually harm your dog.
In order to avoid heartworm infection, one must kill the larvae as soon as a mosquito bite introduces them, but before they can move to the heart and develop into an adult infection. When taken, monthly preventatives kill those larvae, so it’s crucial that they are given on time and regularly.
There are numerous oral monthly preventatives like Heartgard Plus Chewables for Dogs available for these drugs. Additionally, your veterinarian can give you an injectable choice once or twice a year. ProHeart, an injectable long-acting preventive, can last for six to twelve months, depending on the version used.
This version can be administered during an annual visit when vaccinations are updated. It stays in the dog’s system continuously and destroys heartworm larvae as they are introduced to the dog through mosquito bites.
You truly have a choice between oral and injectable preventatives if you’re attempting to make one. Neither is better or worse; they are simply different. The injectable form is frequently more expensive, and there is a very slight chance that the injection will cause an allergic reaction. This is true of most injections, including immunizations. It does, however, eliminate the chance of forgetting to take a precautionary dose.
Canine Heartworm Testing
It’s crucial to bring your dog in for routine heartworm testing since it will reveal whether or not the virus is current. Every year, a heartworm test should be performed. This should be carried out together with any necessary vaccination updates during their annual exam.
Your dog’s blood can be tested by your veterinarian to identify heartworm illness. An easy blood test can detect heartworms.
The test is extremely sensitive and looks for ovarian antigens generated by female adult heartworms. A microfilaria test is frequently conducted after a positive test, and it involves examining a drop of blood under a microscope to check for the presence of worm larvae that may be seen swimming around in the blood sample.
Canine Heartworm Treatment
If your dog is found to have heartworms, he will need treatment to get rid of any harmful worms. Blood testing and other tests are performed to determine the severity of the infection. One measure is taking medicine to prevent heartworms, which will kill any immature worms in his system.
Vets can also prescribe a number of steroid medications and antihistamines to stop inflammation. Melarsomine, sometimes known as heartworm medicine, is used to eradicate adult heartworms.
Hospitalization is necessary to ensure that your dog doesn’t experience any problems as a result of the melarsomine injections.
Even if you weren’t able to prevent your dog from becoming infected, heartworm preventive medicine could still be helpful because it is actually a part of your dog’s treatment.
But the best course of action is always to keep your dog from contracting heartworm illness in the first place. So be sure to start your dog on the preventative medication as soon as possible.