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How to treat heartworms in dogs?

(October 21, 2010)

Heartworms in Dogs

Heartworms in dogs, also known as Dirofilaria immitis, is a parasitic infection and can be a dangerous and fatal disease. Dog heartworms are parasites which are transmitted to dogs by mosquitoes. The disease is more prevalent in areas where there are lots of carrier mosquitoes.

If a heartworm-transmitting mosquito bites your dog, it transfers the eggs from its mouth into the dog’s bloodstream. The eggs then travel via the blood to the rest of the body, and finally to the heart, especially to the right ventricle. Here the eggs incubate for 3 to 4 months, after which they emerge as worms, which can grow as long as twelve inches. The female and male worms breed inside the dog’s body, producing millions of microfilaria. They also spread to the lungs, pulmonary arteries, and occasionally to the liver. This causes blockage of blood flow, damage to vital organs such as the lungs, liver and heart, and ultimately heart failure.

A dog heartworms can live as long as 5 years in a dog’s body.

Symptoms: Symptoms of heartworms in dogs are very difficult to detect since this is an internal disease, and is not visible on the surface. The first symptom of heartworm in dogs is coughing, followed by chest pain, but by then the heartworms have already bred in millions, causing congestion in the lungs and heart. The cough can also be mistaken for some other infection.

Other than this, your dog may have shortness of breath, loss of appetite, weight loss and listlessness, accompanied by swelling of the abdomen, labored breathing, anemia, jaundice and bloody sputum. Convulsions, bulging of the chest and vomiting, could be a few other signs of heartworms in dogs.

Heartworms in Dogs Treatment

Heartworm in canines treatment is difficult and sometimes even dangerous because complications may arise during the procedures. The first step is the diagnosis of the problem, and this is done by angiography, radiology or echocardiography.

Arsenic compounds may be used to kill the adult worms, but this carries a risk of complications, since the dead worms can clog the blood vessels causing fever, vomiting, jaundice or expectoration of blood. The treatment requires a second step to get rid of the eggs and larvae.

Another treatment is to remove the heartworms surgically. Besides this, the dog also has to be treated for organ damage.

Heartworms in Dogs Prevention

Since heartworm in dogs is so difficult to diagnose and treat, a better option is to prevent it right at the beginning. Vaccinations are now available in the market, and it is best to vaccinate your pet, and keep him safe.

Submitted by N M on October 21, 2010 at 11:41


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