Heartworm disease is a serious disease that should not be left untreated. This disease can cause severe lung and heart failure, other organ damage and also death in pets. So, if you are a pet parent, it’s important to know about common diseases that can be fatal to your pets. And one of them is also discussed below.
What is heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal, but preventable, infection caused by a worm parasite. The organism is transmitted by mosquitoes that carry heartworm larvae from an infected animal host to a new animal host. These larvae grow into adult worms in several months and live in the blood vessels that serve the heart and lungs. Usually young dogs could not bear heartworm infections or treatments because of their smaller blood vessels and heart chambers, saving young dogs from vessel damage or blockage.
How is heartworm spread from one pet to another?
The only way in which heartworms are transmitted is through the bite of the infected mosquito. So even if the uninfected mosquito bites your infected dog, and then bites your uninfected dog the same night, the virus will not be spread from one dog to the other. That is because when a mosquito bites an infected animal, the heartworm needs to go through an incubation period in the mosquito until the mosquito can infect other animals.
What are the symptoms of this disease in dogs?
Heartworm symptoms in dogs begin to occur after the worm reaches maturity, usually about 6 months post-implantation. Signs include:
- Distended chest.
- Allergic reactions.
- Collapsing or fainting.
- A dry unproductive cough.
- Inactivity or laziness.
- Weight loss and loss of appetite.
- Shallow and rapid breathing.
Heartworm testing- What you need to know:
The American Heartworm Society recommends regular preventive heartworm tests all year round and once a year. The test is a basic blood test, performed quickly and easily in the office. It only picks up the presence of adult female heartworms. This means that it will not turn positive unless your dog has been infected for at least 6 months. It is important to diagnose and treat early heartworm before it has a chance of causing a lot of damage. It is a smart decision to have your dog tested every year.
Is there a vaccine for heartworm disease?
The FDA-CVM has announced the approval of ProHeart 12 (moxidectin), a 12-month extended-release injection for dogs 12 months or older to prevent heartworm. With six-month duration of action to prevent heartworm disease, Moxidectin – a macrocyclic lactone anti-parasitic compound- has already been approved in the extended release formulation as ProHeart 6. The formulation of ProHeart 12 is the same as the previously approved drug but contains three times the concentration of moxidectin, resulting in a 12-month period of operation. ProHeart 12 is also approved for the treatment of recurrent larval and adult hook worm infections.