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Heart-worm is a serious illness most commonly experienced by dogs. Although it is not as common in cats, it is just as real a threat. Despite the name, heart-worm disease is not actually caused by a worm. It is rather, an infection that is passed on by mosquitoes. If an infected mosquito bites your dog, chances are, your dog will also be infected. Most people claim that if you have a healthy dog, the parasite will be less likely to survive and infect him. This, in fact, is just a myth. The infection can be spread by a simple mosquito bite.
It is even more dangerous because you’ll never know which mosquitoes are infected and which are not. Making prevention and treatment all the more important.
How can you prevent your pet from getting heart-worm?
This can be easily accomplished with monthly topicals that you put on your pet’s skin, as well as monthly preventative pills that you can use. There’s even an injectable product which has to be administered every six months. The best part about these preventative measures is that they’re not at all expensive! You can prevent your pet from getting heart-worms with the same amount of money that you might spend at Starbucks for your weekly coffee.
What are some of the signs and symptoms that your pet might display if they have heart-worm?
Although there are discernible symptoms during the initial stage, as the infection progresses and more and more worms accumulate around the lungs and the heart, your dog might start coughing. As the infection progresses, your pet might show a lack of interest in exercises. If left untreated, your pet may pass out and even die.
What can you do to treat heart-worms?
The drug that’s used to treat this disease is called immiticide. It’s an arsenic-based injectable. This injection is administered two to three times in order to kill off the adult heart-worms in your dog’s heart’s blood vessels.
In order to properly treat heart-worms, the vet will first need to diagnose how infected your dog is. In order to do this, he will need blood work, X-rays, and other tests needed to see the gravity of the damage. Once the seriousness of the infection has been established, your dog will be given injections.
What can you expect after the treatment?
Your pet will have to be kept quiet for the duration of a few months after the treatment. This is because the heart-worms begin to die after the injections have been administered and that may cause blockage in the pulmonary vessels. So to be safe, keep your dog on rest and restrain from heavy exercises.
Unlike chickenpox in humans, the fact that your dog has had heart-worms once doesn’t prevent him from acquiring them again. That’s why preventative measures are so important.