What is Heartworm Disease In Dogs

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that affects dogs. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis, which is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Once the worms are inside a dog’s body, they migrate to the heart and pulmonary arteries, where they grow and reproduce.

As the worms grow and multiply, they can cause heart and lung damage, leading to a range of symptoms including a mild persistent cough, fatigue after moderate activity, a reluctance to exercise, and weight loss. If left untreated, heartworm disease can be fatal. It is important to protect your dog from heartworm disease by using preventive medication and reducing the risk of mosquito bites.

If you suspect that your dog may have heartworm disease, it is important to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible for treatment.

The life cycle of the Heartworm:

  • A mosquito feeds on a dog or other animal that is infected with heartworms, sucking up microfilariae (infant heartworms) from the bloodstream.
  • If conditions are ideal, the microfilariae will develop within the mosquito, progressing through 3 “shedding” phases to grow to its larval form.
  • Once the microfilariae have successfully grown into heartworm larvae, they migrate to the mouthparts of the mosquito, waiting for the next time it feeds.
  • When the mosquito feeds, the heartworm larvae pass through into the dog’s body, just under the skin layer. The heartworm larvae remain here for a duration, growing into immature heartworms.
  • The immature heartworms enter the dog’s blood circulatory system and make their way to the dog’s heart.
  • The immature heartworms take up residence in the right ventricle of the dog’s heart and the pulmonary artery. It is here that they thrive, and mature into fully grown heartworms. Heartworm disease may be light or heavy. Heavier infestations have been reported to consist of up to 300 worms!
  • Once the heartworms are fully matured, they mate, producing microfilariae.
  • This microfilaria circulates through the dog’s blood system, eventually becoming lodged in the narrow blood vessels towards the surface of the skin.
  • A mosquito feeds on the dog, sucking up the microfilariae, thus continuing the life cycle.

During this life cycle, there may be minor variations. The generation of new microfilariae is prevented in the dog if only adult worms of one sex are present, and that specific life cycle is brought to a conclusion. It is possible for heartworms to get trapped in other parts of the body, including the eye and leg.

Alternatively, larval heartworm may be transferred to a host (either an atypical host or a treated host) that is better equipped to combat an infection, resulting in the life cycle of the heartworm being terminated before it has an opportunity to reach maturity.

Infestations of heartworms in dogs may be deadly. Because of the presence of worms, blood circulation may be impeded and the heart muscle may be unable to contract correctly. In order to prevent heartworm larvae from growing in your dog, it is critical that you treat him on a regular basis with heartworm medicine.

Dirofilaria immitis
Dirofilaria immitis

How to treat Heartworm Disease in Dogs?

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that affects dogs. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis, which is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. If left untreated, heartworm disease can be fatal. Here are some steps you can take to treat heartworm disease in dogs:

  • Consult a veterinarian: If you suspect that your dog may have heartworm disease, it is important to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination and may recommend blood tests, X-rays, and other diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of the infection.
  • Follow the treatment plan: Your veterinarian will develop a treatment plan based on the severity of the infection and the overall health of your dog. Treatment typically involves the use of medications to kill the adult worms and reduce inflammation in the lungs and other affected organs.
  • Use preventive medication: After treatment, it is important to use preventive medication to prevent new infections from occurring. This may involve giving your dog a monthly preventive medication or using mosquito repellents to reduce the risk of mosquito bites.
  • Monitor your dog closely: During and after treatment, it is important to closely monitor your dog for any potential complications. This may include monitoring for signs of coughing, difficulty breathing, and fatigue.
  • Practice mosquito prevention: To reduce the risk of heartworm disease, it is important to practice mosquito prevention measures. This may include using mosquito repellents, removing standing water from your yard, and keeping your dog indoors during peak mosquito hours.

By following these steps, you can help ensure that your dog receives the proper treatment and care for heartworm disease. It is important to follow the treatment plan recommended by your veterinarian to ensure the best outcome for your dog.


How to prevent Heartworm Disease in Dogs?

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that affects dogs. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis, which is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. To protect your dog from heartworm disease, it is important to take preventive measures to reduce the risk of mosquito bites and prevent new infections from occurring. Here are some steps you can take to prevent heartworm disease in dogs:

  • Use preventive medication: One of the most effective ways to prevent heartworm disease is to use preventive medication. There are several types of preventive medications available, including monthly tablets, chewable treats, and topicals. Talk to your veterinarian about which option is best for your dog.
  • Practice mosquito prevention: To reduce the risk of heartworm disease, it is important to practice mosquito prevention measures. This may include using mosquito repellents, removing standing water from your yard, and keeping your dog indoors during peak mosquito hours.
  • Keep your dog up-to-date on vaccinations: It is important to keep your dog up-to-date on all vaccinations, including those for heartworm disease. This can help to reduce the risk of infection and protect your dog from other serious health conditions.
  • Monitor your dog for signs of illness: Pay close attention to your dog’s behavior and appearance, and be on the lookout for any signs of illness. If you notice any changes in your dog’s appetite, energy levels, or behavior, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

By following these steps, you can help to protect your dog from heartworm disease and ensure that they stay healthy and happy. It is important to be proactive in preventing heartworm disease and to seek medical attention if you suspect that your dog may be infected.

Heartworm test. A negative test result sample

Which Medication in Heartworm Disease?

There are several medications available to treat heartworm disease in dogs. Here is a list of some commonly used medications:

  • Melarsomine: This is the most commonly used medication for treating heartworm disease in dogs. It is given as an injection and works by killing the adult worms that are present in the heart and pulmonary arteries.
  • Doxycycline: This is an antibiotic that is often used in conjunction with melarsomine to treat heartworm disease. It helps to reduce inflammation and prevent secondary infections from occurring.
  • Prednisone: This is a corticosteroid that is used to reduce inflammation and swelling in the lungs and other affected organs. It may be given in combination with melarsomine and doxycycline to treat heartworm disease.
  • Heartworm preventive medication: After treatment, it is important to use preventive medication to prevent new infections from occurring. There are several types of preventive medications available, including monthly tablets, chewable treats, and topicals.

It is important to follow the treatment plan recommended by your veterinarian to ensure the best outcome for your dog. Treatment for heartworm disease can be complex and time-consuming, and may require hospitalization in severe cases. Be sure to closely monitor your dog for any potential complications and seek medical attention if you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior or appearance.

Generic Heartworm Medications

Heartworm infection is one of the numerous illnesses that might have catastrophic consequences for your domestic canine companion. This condition not only causes many problems but may also result in the sudden death of your beloved pets if left untreated or undiscovered for a long period of time. So, don’t spend any more time beginning today without knowing that they are safe from harm.

Heartworm treatments for dogs are readily accessible on the pharmaceutical market nowadays in a variety of formulations. Various brands and price ranges are available, with the majority of them being rather expensive. Pet owners, on the other hand, will no longer have to be concerned since, in the case of heartworm infestation, there are generic medications available that contain the same types and amounts of components as the pricey branded version Heartgard Plus without costing as much as the branded version. Valuheart and Nuheart are two of the most popular heartworm preventatives for dogs.

There are several generic medications available on the market today that aim to prevent your beloved canines against heartworm illness. Valuheart and Nuheart are just two of the many options available. Knowing that the illness may be transmitted from a simple mosquito bite, the medications are laced with Ivermectin, which is effective against larval heartworms that are a month or younger in development.

As a result, there is a significant need for pet owners to be able to provide any of the medications on a consistent basis and without missing a dosage. Both medications are available in a beef-flavored chewable version that seems to be more of a treat for dogs than a prescription medication. It is often administered in conjunction with meals to enhance palatability. On the other hand, it has been demonstrated to be quite safe and effective by a large number of dogs all over the globe.

Regardless of whether you give your dogs Valuheart or Nuheart, always visit your veterinarian first since they are the ones who are most familiar with the proper medicine regimen that your pets at home must follow. However, if you are given the opportunity, be sure to inquire as to whether the aforementioned medications will be beneficial to your dog. Besides saving you money by not having to purchase the pricey versions, these products will also provide your dogs with the level of protection they need against undesirable heartworms!


Canine Heartworm Prevention Medications

Many of you could be possibly unaware of this yet but your dogs at home can actually get a deadly parasitic infection through a mosquito bite. Some mosquitos carry heartworms that are transferred directly into your pet dog’s bloodstream via bites.

The transferred larvae heartworms will start to feed on the nutrient-rich blood of your pets until they come at a fully mature age. Upon reaching maturity, the terror starts because they will invade the heart and the lungs. Such a phenomenon will cause a lot of complications like blood regurgitations, respiratory distress, cardiac damage, cardiac arrest, and eventually death.

So to prevent such from occurring, be sure to take your dog to the vet regularly and have them checked up. Inquire about the available heartworm medications that you may administer to them. Most of the time, vets prescribe Heartgard heartworm prevention.

So to prevent such from occurring, be sure to take your dog to the vet regularly and have them checked up. Inquire about the available heartworm medications that you may administer to them. Most of the time, vets prescribe Heartgard heartworm prevention.

Heartgard is a chewable tablet-prepared drug that is beef flavored. It is administered just once a month and is advised to be swallowed into smaller bits for fast absorption. The active ingredient of the drug is Ivermectin; a component that is proven to effectively take down all heartworms that cross its path in the bloodstream.

However it comes at a price that is quite high so if in case you are on a tight budget, you can ask the vet for an alternative.


Proheart-6 injections

A alternative to Heartgard is Proheart-6.Shot – Proheart 6 is a brand of injectable preventive medication for heartworm disease in dogs. It is a long-acting formulation that provides protection against heartworm disease for up to six months. It is administered as a single injection by a veterinarian, and is recommended for use in dogs 6 months of age or older.

Proheart 6 contains the active ingredient moxidectin, which is an antiparasitic medication that works by killing the larvae of the heartworm parasite. It is important to follow the dosing instructions provided by your veterinarian and to use Proheart 6 in conjunction with other preventive measures, such as reducing the risk of mosquito bites, to effectively protect your dog from heartworm disease.

Whatever drugs you choose for your canine to be protected against heartworms, it pays a lot to consult the veterinarian first. Nothing beats an expert’s knowledge!

Read also: Some Useful Tips & Routines To Keep Your Dogs & Cats Healthy


Marco

Marco Heitner

Hello, my Name is Marco. My family has had pets since I can remember. Today we have a large aquarium and, since recently, a four-month old Labrador. I am the owner of this website, and it is my great pleasure to provide helpful knowledge about pets. Our team is constantly working hard to publish well-researched reports here.

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