Protecting your Dog from Heartworm Disease

Monthly Preventative Treatments for Heartworm are a Necessity

Heartworm disease can be potentially fatal if your dog is not treated for the illness.
This ailment, which affects a dog's heart, lungs, and related blood vessels, is
generally transmitted by way of a mosquito bite.

The sickness, however, can be prevented with the regular administration of
preventative medicines. As treatment for heartworm disease can be quite expensive,
prevention is essential if you want to make sure that your dog stays in the best of
health.

How Dogs Get the Disease

When a dog has contracted the disease, the parasitic worm, Dirofilaria immitis, lodges in the primary blood vessels of the heart and lungs. Again, a mosquito is responsible for acting as the host carrier of this deadly microscopic worm. Not only is lung and heart functioning compromised, the liver and kidneys can be affected too. Plus, treating a dog with heartworm disease can be rather complicated and run into a good deal of expense depending on the stage of the disease.

The Disease Affects Dogs in Epidemic Proportions each Year

Although heartworm disease can be prevented, a large number of dogs are diagnosed with the canine malady each year. In fact, approximately one million dogs in the U.S. alone are currently infected with the disease. Symptoms of heartworm can include decreased appetite, weight loss, tiredness, and a persistent cough.

A Slow Recovery

Veterinarians use laboratory exams, such as blood tests, as well as ultrasound to aid them in diagnosing the illness. If a case of heartworm is severe, then dogs may take many months to recover and have to be hospitalized for some time as well.

Treatment and Testing for the Disease: Recommendations

Again, heartworm can be fatal, so ongoing preventative care is vital in barring future health issues related to the disease. Therefore, a heartworm preventative should be given monthly and your dog should be tested once a year to ensure that he is disease-free.

Heartworm Preventatives come in Topical Solutions or Tablets

As treating the illness can run as much as $1,000 and can include confining a dog for over a month, preventative measures should, no doubt, be consistently followed. Happily, there are a number of efficacious heartworm preventatives that can be given to your dog each month in the form of topical solutions or chewable tablets. Administering the preventative on a monthly basis will destroy any larvae that are developing in your dog and thereby substantially reduce the chance for infection. However, it's important to test a dog for heartworm first before he receives preventatives on a routine basis. Otherwise, regularly administering the medicine can be fatal to your pet.

Stay on a Course of Treatment

That's because a heartworm preventative only acts against baby heartworms or microfilaria in a dog's bloodstream. So, if he already has the disease, the adult heartworm will not be killed. As long as an infected dog too is not treated for the disease, the illness will progress until both the lungs and heart are irreversibly damaged. So, see a veterinarian first to check for heartworm and make sure your dog receives ongoing heartworm preventatives on a consistent basis as well.