Not many people understand the seriousness of heartworm disease in dogs. This is affects home pets, mainly dogs, cats and ferrets. It can cause heart failure, other organ damage and even death if it is not treated in time.
Below is a list with 10 things you need to know about this disease in order to prevent your dog from getting infected with it.
#1 Mosquitoes are the ones to blame. They carry the larvae and pass it to your dog through bites. Once it reaches the blood vessels the female heart worms release their microfilariae.
#2 This disease has spread in all 50 states.
#3 A good news is that it is not contagious.
#4 This heartworms can grow up to 10-12 inches…that is almost a foot long.
#5 The number of these worms inside your dogs body can rage from 1 up to 250. Scary!
#6 Symptoms are divided in 4 stages. The first stages are almost impossible to notice. It consists of tiredness and a cough here and there. In the third stage other than those mentioned above, they start to have difficulty breathing and show signs of heart failure. In the end is the Caval Syndrome. In this stage the blood can not travel to the heart because it is blocked by hundreds of worms.
#7 It is very difficult to treat it because the medications that help fight this disease in the most cases have severe side effects.
#8 So the best thing you can do is prevent your dog to get infected in the first place. One of the options is to take him to the vet, where he will inject him with a preventive.
#9 You can also get your dog tested, which will detect if there are any antigens produced by female heartworms in his body.
#10 If you try to give a preventive to a dog already infected it will do more harm than good. The preventive will kill the microfilarie and will shock his body to an extend that might even cause death. Puppies older than 6 months must take the preventive treatment on regular basis.