Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms heartworms that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats and ferrets, but heartworms also live in other mammal species, including wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions and—in rare instances—humans. Because wild species such as foxes and coyotes live in proximity to many urban areas, they are considered important carriers of the disease. The dog is a natural host for heartworms, which means that heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate and produce offspring.
Heartworm Treatment for Dogs: What You Need to Know
How to Treat Heartworm Disease in Dogs
No one wants to hear that their dog has heartworm, but the good news is that most infected dogs can be successfully treated. The goal is to first stabilize your dog if he is showing signs of disease, then kill all adult and immature worms while keeping the side effects of treatment to a minimum. Yes, it is recommended in the American Heartworm Society's Guidelines to do so. This should be done under the direct supervision of a veterinarian because dogs with microfilaria baby worms in the blood that the mosquito picks up when feeding could possibly have a reaction to the preventive. And while this is an extra-label use of heartworm preventives, it is appropriate under the supervision of a veterinarian. However, it is important that your veterinarian assesses the severity of the disease and chooses the proper preventive accordingly. By starting the prevention program you are ensuring that your dog will not get a new heartworm infection while being treated for the existing heartworm disease.
Heartworm is one of the most well known diseases contracted by man's best friend. In the past, vets prescribed preventative medication only to owners residing in areas where mosquitoes were prevalent. Today, heartworm disease exists in all 50 states and globally around the world. Some dogs may test positive for heartworm disease but show no signs of being ill. It's important to have your dog tested regularly because heartworm disease, when untreated, almost always leads to death.
Regardless of how heartworm disease is diagnosed, prompt treatment is essential. Goals of heartworm treatment. Pet owners and veterinarians should have a clear understanding of the goals of heartworm treatment.