heartworm treatment for dogs

Heartworm Treatment for Dogs: Safeguard Your Canine Companion

Finding out your dog has heartworm disease can be disheartening, considering this condition is associated with heart failure, severe lung disease, and several organ damage. It can be fatal, making dog owners seriously worried about their pet’s health and life.

According to the American Heartworm Society, there are several methods, including conventional treatment options, to kill adult heartworms without experiencing extreme side effects.

So, in this post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about heartworm disease: cause, treatment and preventative measures.

Heartworms: What Are They?

They are parasitic worms named Dirofilaria immitis that make it into your dog’s bloodstream from mosquito bites. These parasites live in your dog’s lungs, heart, and blood vessels.

But how do dogs get heartworm?

Mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting heartworm larvae from infected dogs to healthy ones. It takes about 7 months for the heartworm larvae (Dirofilaria immitis) to develop into adult heartworms.

Dogs are more prone to heartworm infection than other pets like cats, ferrets, etc. Heartworm infections affect the dog’s vital organs – heart and lungs – resulting in demise.

While heartworm infection can be successfully treated, not all dogs infected exhibit clinical signs to give you a heads up. This is another good reason to stick with regular checkups, particularly heartworm tests.

Is Your Dog Infected? How to Know

Blood tests are the only way to know if your dog has heartworm disease. To be sure, your dog will have to undergo an antigen test to detect if there’s a trace of heartworm proteins in your dog’s bloodstream.

Adult female heartworms are responsible for producing antigens, which makes antigen tests a more accurate heartworm test. Because the protein comes from adult female worms only, it takes about 5 months from the day an infected mosquito bites your pet to detect.

Heartworm Treatment For Dogs Infected

Treating an infected dog can be risky, and although rare, it may lead to fatality. The reason is that most dogs have advanced heartworm disease. The immature heartworms have gone unnoticed and developed into adult worms causing life-threatening damage to the dog’s heart and lungs.

If the damage has already been done, killing adult heartworms might risk your dog’s life. Your vet may suggest treating the damaged organs and proffer effective options for managing heartworm disease.

There have been significant advancements in the veterinary medicine realm. American Heartworm Society has some good news: newer heartworm medicines have lesser side effects compared to older ones high in arsenic and other potentially toxic substances.

Treatment for heartworm larvae

Heartworm-positive dogs are usually first treated with a drug to kill microfilariae (baby worms) before proceeding with treatment to kill adult heartworms. Your vet may require the infected dog to remain in the hospital the day the medication is administered.

Many dogs with heartworm disease are also given the antibiotic doxycycline to fight potential bacterial infections before the melarsomine treatment.

Treatment to kill adult heartworms

To kill adult heartworms, infected dogs are administered with melarsomine. This injectable drug kills adult heartworms in the pulmonary artery, heart, and adjacent blood vessels.

Usually, your vet will administer the next injection after a 30-day rest period from the initial injection. Also, you will be given pain medication to alleviate the muscle pain associated with melarsomine.

It takes a couple of days for the adult heartworms to die and decompose. The dead heartworm fragments are the underlying cause of most post-treatment complications.

Cage rest is important during this period, especially during the first week of treatment. Also, you may notice occasional coughs, depending on the severity of the heartworm infection.

Adverse reactions are not expected. However, if your infected animal shows more severe symptoms like coughing up blood, depression, shortness of breath, etc., consult your vet immediately.

Ways to Prevent Heartworm Disease

Treating heartworm disease can be a troubling experience for dogs and costly for the owners. So, it’s best to consider effective heartworm-preventative methods to avoid serious complications.

Luckily, there are many heartworm-preventative drugs approved by FDA to help prevent heartworms in your dog’s body. Typically, these preventive drugs are available in either oral tablet or topical cream form. The formal comes in a non-chewable and chewable tablet.

It’s not uncommon to find heartworm preventatives containing active ingredients to combat intestinal worms and other parasites like ear mites, ticks, and fleas.

According to the American Heartworm Society, Pet owners should opt for a 12-month heartworm preventive and be tested for heartworm disease every year.

Related FAQs

How can I protect my dog from heartworm disease?

To protect your dog from heartworm disease, it is essential to administer a heartworm preventive as directed by your veterinarian. Additionally, keeping dogs indoors during peak mosquito activity times minimizes your dog’s exposure to infected mosquitoes. Using mosquito repellents can also help reduce the risk of heartworm transmission.

Are there natural remedies that can treat heartworm disease in dogs?

While some claim that specific natural remedies treat heartworms, no scientific evidence supports their efficacy. Heartworm disease is a severe condition that requires professional medical treatment to ensure the best outcome for the dog’s health.

Can heartworm disease lead to side effects or reactions in dogs?

Treating heartworm disease can lead to side effects, as the process of killing adult worms can release substances that cause an inflammatory response in the dog’s body. Additionally, heartworm preventives may have side effects, although they are generally well-tolerated by many dogs.

Key Takeaway

Heartworm disease can go unnoticed for several months. Relying on moderate symptoms to kick in before testing your pet for heartworm disease may cost your dog’s life.

Detecting heartworm in your dog makes it easier to treat this dreadful disease and protect your dog’s life. Heartworm treatment is a delicate clinical process that may, although rarely, leads to fatality.

Therefore, taking your dog for regular tests and using heartworm prevention is essential. Even after a successful heartworm treatment, stick with the vet-recommended heartworm prevention program to avoid future recurrence.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *