What You Should Know About Heartworms
So here’s what you should know about heartworms… Surely you have heard of them and really this is an enemy that may be a silent but deadly ailment to your dog. As its owner, being familiar with it helps prevent your dog catching it because prevention in this case is not only better but easier than cure.
What is Heartworm Disease?
Feared for being potentially fatal, heartworms is a condition when worms, as big as a foot-long in worst case scenarios, begin to dwell inside the lungs, heart, and the blood vessels associated with these two organs. As a result, it leads to severe heart failure and lung disease besides other problems.
Why Should You be Concerned?
While the disease may affect cats, ferrets, foxes, wolves, sea lions, coyotes, it’s the dogs that are the primary target and natural host to these heartworms. All dogs, irrespective of their sex, age, or environment, are at risk of this infection. The heartworms that live inside your pug will eventually grow, mate, and reproduce. The numbers increase thus when the disease is left untreated, so much so that the dogs are known to be a safe haven for hundreds of them. Delayed treatment means putting the dog’s health and quality of life at risk.
Fighting the disease is hard because it’s an invisible killer, especially in the initial stages so when it comes to what you should know about heartworms, the truth is that you won’t know enough without being a Vet but you can take preventative measures as a caring owner. A lot of dogs won’t show any symptoms at all, unless, as is generally the case, the dog is heavily infected with heartworms, is extraordinarily active, or has other health issues too. So, it’s natural to think that the more developed the symptoms are, the longer the infection has been present.
Anyway, these signs include a reluctance to exercise, decreased appetite, a mild and persistent cough, fatigue after little activity, and weight loss. For more advanced prognosis, your pug will have swollen belly and heart failure.
How is it Transmitted
While it’s prevalent, the disease in itself is not contagious; mosquitoes are the culprits in this case. So basically, anything you read or hear about dogs infecting, catching it by sniffing feces of infected species, or playing with them in a dog park, are just myths.
When the mosquito bites the infected dog, the baby worms circulating in the bloodstream are transferred to the insect, and when it bites another dog or other animal, the baby worms (possibly larvae now) are deposited and further developed.
When to Test Your Pet and What to Do Afterwards
Have you made any effort to know if the heartworm disease is present in your local community? Have you tried the same kind of effort to know if any area you and your pet are travelling to, has reported incidence of the disease? How horrifying would it be to know that you could’ve caught and nipped it in the bud to save your buddy’s life – and yet you didn’t.
It’s important that this test, requiring a small blood sample of the dog, be administered by a qualified vet. Note, some of them may have the facility to analyze it in their hospitals only, others still will send it for reports from a diagnostic lab. Give it preventive treatment every month (7 months old onwards) and get it tested every 6 months following the preventive treatment for a year and then annually after that. If the pug’s positive for heartworm testing, there will be further tests and treatment plan specified.