Using one of the heartworm medicines for dogs monthly throughout the year will protect your precious pet from heartworm disease throughout his life. Responsible pet owners know heartworm prevention is as important as vaccinations for their dog.
The medical problems caused by heartworm are often severely debilitating to canines and lead to damage not only in the animal’s heart but also in the kidneys, liver, and lungs. This is an insidious parasite that may not have visible symptoms until the disease is advanced. If your dog has a light heartworm infestation and is not highly active, the symptoms of heartworm may not become apparent. In most dogs, signs of heartworm are detected by your vet as changes in heart or lung function.
Though early signs of the disease are rare, coughing is often one of the first indicators a dog is infected with heartworm. Your veterinarian may detect unusual lung sounds during a routine physical examination, and you may notice the animal tires quickly when exercised. Severe heartworm disease may display as an enlarged liver and loss of consciousness due to reduced blood flow to the brain. The dog may be unconscious for only a few seconds, which can be confused with a mild seizure that leaves the animal seeming confused for a few moments. Fluid accumulation in the abdomen can be a symptom of advanced heartworm disease but is also an indicator of other heart diseases in canines. Veterinarians often recommend a routine blood test for heartworm as part of your pet’s annual checkup. The test strip for a positive indicator may vary from a pale blue, indicating a light case of heartworm to a darker blue showing a heavy infestation.
The blood smear exam that confirms heartworm disease is not sensitive enough to detect the early stages of the parasite. These antigen tests do not find the heartworms until they are seven or eight months old, so one negative test result may not be entirely accurate.
Heartworm is so easily preventable; sadly, so many dogs acquire the disease each year. Mosquitoes carry the worm larvae, and those many species can be infected. Dogs seem to be the most frequent victim.
Heartworm larvae develop inside the canine’s body and migrate to the heart and lungs as well as residing in blood vessels. The cycle began again when the mature worms reproduced inside the dog, and the microfilariae are picked up by mosquitoes and spread to other animals. One dog may have only 2-3 heartworms, while another may have as many as 250 presents. The worms can live inside your pet for 5-7 years, with males growing to 4-6 inches and females reaching 10-12 inches in length at maturity.
Preventing heartworm is a simple process with the safe and effective heartworm medicines available today. Some of the best choices are:
Heartgard – can be used after a diagnosis of heartworm disease and may be part of the treatment. Tasty wafers also treat hookworms and roundworms.
Sentinel -Should not be used for any animal that has tested positive for heartworm disease. Tablets are given monthly to kill heartworm larvae before they can grow and develop into a problem.
Revolution (selamectin) – A spot-on treatment with multiple benefits. Revolution is an effective heartworm medication for dogs and also protects from fleas and other parasites.
Interceptor (milbemycin oxime) – A monthly oral pet medication that can be used on puppies over four weeks of age and also controls roundworms and hookworms. Interceptor is safe to use in pregnant and nursing dogs.
Providing heartworm prevention for your dog is simple and inexpensive.