The Danger of Heartworm in Dogs
How do you protect your pet from an airborne killer? Every pet parent knows about the nuisance of mosquitoes, but newer owners may not realize that these flying pests carry a deadly canine parasite: heartworm.
As owners, we often shove away the possibility of our pets being hurt or sick. Unfortunately, neglecting your dog's health risks will only cause pain in the future. This is why it's important that every owner, new and old, should educate themselves on the danger and prevention of heartworm disease.
Heartworm is a parasitic worm known as Dirofilaria immitis. The worm infects a host—typically a dog—through the bite of a mosquito. Once inside the host, the worm larvae will develop into adult heartworms in about 6 to 7 months.
The danger of the disease is determined by the “worm burden”, or how many worms the dog is host to. Dog’s with light worm burdens may be asymptomatic for a long time, but eventually, as the worms thrive, symptoms will begin to appear. Heartworm severity is ranked by classes:
- Class 1: The dog has no or extremely mild symptoms.
- Class 2: The dog will begin to show moderate symptoms of fatigue and illness.
- Class 3: The dog will begin to show alarming symptoms such as chronic fatigue, coughing, and is likely to suffer heart failure.
- Class 4: Referred to as “Caval Syndrome”, at this point, the infected dog’s worm burden is so high, the heart is physically restricted by the presence of adult heartworms. Caval syndrome is a pet emergency and will require risky surgery to cure.
The best preventative options will be prescribed by your local veterinarian. Medications commonly come in pill and topical applications and will need regular administration to remain effective. If you believe your dog has heartworm, do not hesitate to contact your vet.
For Heartworm Prevention and Treatment, Bring Your Canine to Huebner Oaks Veterinary Hospital
Keep your canine companion protected against the dangers of heartworm. At Huebner Oaks Veterinary Hospital, our experienced and compassionate team will provide nothing short of the best care for your pet. With our impeccable standards, our full-service clinic will be the one-stop shop for all your dog’s health needs. Contact or visit us today to consult your dog’s heartworm prevention and treatment!