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09.25.2019

Dogs and the dreaded heartworm

Everyone must have heard of the heartworm, a silent disease that causes

severe heart failure in pets, especially in dogs.

Known as Canine Dirofilariasis, this disease can lead the pet to a critical

condition, as well as being a potentially fatal disease. Besides causing heart

problems, the heartworm severely affects the dogs’ lungs.

The spread by mosquitoes

Dirofilariasis is a parasitic disease transmitted by the worm

Dirofilaria immitis

,

which affects the heart of dogs through the bite of a mosquito, which can be of

three different genera:

Aedes

,

Culex

and

Anopheles

.

The heartworm is, in fact, larvae that matures in the tissues beneath the skin

of dogs. When the worms are adult, they migrate to the arteries of the lungs

and heart. The whole process takes about 4 months after the mosquito bite.

Symptoms

There are no initial symptoms in dogs, as it takes a while for the larvae to

mature. Only after the disease progresses, you may notice the following signs

from your dog: coughing, tiredness, short and rapid breathing, and weight loss.

Prevention and treatment

Animals that have access to beaches are more likely to be contaminated

because mosquitoes like warm places. To prevent the disease, you should

remove any stagnant water around your home to avoid mosquitoes, which

could act as heartworm transmitters.

Besides, deworming is essential to prevent parasitic infections in dogs. Some

medicine and repellents are also available. The veterinarian is the person who

will indicate the best option.

And here is some good news: the heartworm disease can be treated, but

treatment option can vary greatly depending on the total number of larvae in

the host as well as on the severity of the condition of the organs affected.

Treatment will also depend on the developmental stage of the parasite. In

most cases, the first step is to eliminate adult worms and, then, fight the

microfilariae in blood.

In order to be fully recovered, the dog should be regularly examined by the vet.

Always be careful when the climate is hot, avoid stagnant water and ask a vet

for help to keep the dreaded heartworm away from your best friend.

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