Heartworm is a devastating, totally preventable disease in our companions. It is caused by the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquito becomes infected by biting an infected animal. These animals include, dogs, cats, ferrets, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and even sea lions. Adult female heartworms release microfilaria into the infected animal’s bloodstream. A mosquito bites the infected animal, the microfilaria turn into larvae in about 10 to 14 days, inside the mosquito. When the infected mosquito bites another animal the heartworm larvae is deposited on that animal’s skin. They enter into the bitten animal thru the bite wound from the mosquito. It takes about 6 months for the larvae to turn into an adult heartworm. This adult heartworm will live for 5 to 7 years. It is possible for more larve to be deposited each time an animal is bitten by an infected mosquito.
There are 4 stages of infestation~one being the early stage and 4 being the most advanced. The treatment is very taxing on your companion. In the more advanced stages success is not as good,but still can be effective in a lot of cases. Bloodwork and xrays will determine the stage and the damage already cause to the companion’s organs. Symptoms don’t always show up immediately. The animal might become lethargic, lose their appetite, lose weight, and will develop a cough. The right side of the heart is affected by the heartworms. The blood vessels that carry the blood from the right side of the heart are also affected. The heartworms cause inflammation of the blood vessels which in turn can block the blood flow. The result of this is blood clots in the lungs, which cause heart failure, which causes death. The kidneys and liver can also be affected.
There are preventatives out there. They are usually a once a month dose. Some are given by mouth, and some may be placed on the skin. A very small price to pay to keep your companion healthy, don’t you think? It is important to have your pet tested once a year, even if they are on the preventative. What if you get busy and forget a dose, or maybe you didn’t watch and your dog spits it out. Remember once they get heartworm, the treatment is pretty severe, and it is costly. The drug, Immiticide which is used to treat heartworm disease is in short supply right now. This is causing some animals with milder cases to be treated with less effective means, and also I am sure it will cause an increase in the fee for the treatment. This in turn is going to affect the lives of all the dogs in rescue. Funds are tight already, in these places, and this is going to cause less animals to be treated. A result of this will be more animals being needlessly euthanized.
Remember as a responsible companion caretaker, PLEASE SPAY and NEUTER , and USE a MONTHLY HEARTWORM PREVENTATIVE