The heartworm is a dangerous and potentially deadly parasite that is transmitted to dogs by mosquitoes. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions on this prevalent canine medical condition.
What are the symptoms?
The severity of the symptoms determines its classification. Dogs can have Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3 heartworm disease.
It its earliest stages, dogs that have heartworm disease may not present any symptoms at all, making the condition especially difficult to detect and treat.
Dogs with Class 2 heartworm disease may suffer from chronic bouts of coughing and become increasingly reluctant to engage in physical activity.
Class 3 is the most severe form of the disease. At this stage, symptoms may include fainting, intolerance to exercise, diarrhea, vomiting, fainting and anemia. The veterinarian may also find that the dog has an abnormal heart rate and high blood pressure.
Is heartworm dangerous?
Heartworm may lead to high blood pressure and lethargy, and eventually cause heart failure. It is imperative that you have your dog examined as soon as possible if you suspect that it’s infected.
The veterinarian may perform an electrocardiograph scan to look for any abnormalities of the heart. Diagnosing and treating heartworm disease can save your dog’s life.
How is heartworm treated?
Young heartworms can be killed with a medication called prophylaxis. Dogs that have adult heartworms will need to be hospitalized and will also need a medication that will need to be professionally administered. This medication is often referred to as an adulticide.
Some dogs will be released after a short period of time. Others will need to stay longer. Dogs that have blood clots or other complications may need to be hospitalized extended periods of time.
Your pet’s activity will need to be restricted after they are given the adulticide. During recovery, veterinarians also recommend that dogs follow a low-sodium diet.
The success rate of adulticide is quite high, with close to 98% of dogs showing no signs of heartworm disease once the treatment has been completed.
Can heartworm disease be prevented?
There are many things that can be done to prevent heartworm disease. Firstly, dogs that are at risk will need to be given prophylaxis on a regular basis and undergo blood tests. Protecting your dog from mosquitoes by making sure that it wears repellent can also help minimize the risk.