Days are getting longer and temperatures are getting higher, which can only mean that spring is well on its way! And with spring’s warmer weather sadly comes those pesky mosquitos. And unfortunately with mosquito bites comes the potential for your dog to be exposed to heartworms, a potentially life threatening disease. As a result, NuVet labs thought it would be a good idea to remind our readers that now is the time to see your veterinarian about heartworm preventatives for your dog. We also thought we would fill you in on a little bit of helpful heartworm information.
What are heartworms?
Heartworm disease has been found in infected dogs, cats and other mammals in every state of the U.S. (except Alaska); however it is most prevalent in warmer, humid climates like the southern United States, east coast and near the Mississippi river valley. Heartworm is caused by a blood borne parasite called, Dirofilaria immitis. A dog may become infected when bitten by a mosquito carrying the parasite.
How can it affect your dog?
Once transmitted to your dog through the bite of a mosquito, the microscopic larvae pass through the dog’s bloodstream. Heartworms live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of an infected animal. If untreated they will take up residence in the small vessels of the dog and cause lung disease and heart failure. The worms can also damage the liver and kidneys. Hundreds of heartworms can live in a dog and can grow to be as long as 12 inches. More disturbing perhaps is that these worms can live as long as 5 to 7 years in a host animal.
It can take months before heartworms are detectable through a blood test so it is important to have your dog screened in the spring from your veterinarian. Not all dogs will be symptomatic but many who are infected will show the following symptoms:
- A dry cough
- difficulty breathing
- Weight loss
How are heartworms diagnosed?
If enough antigens are present in your dog’s bloodstream an antigen test can detect heartworms. Your vet may also do X-rays, ultrasounds, urinalysis and a complete blood count (CBC). If the dog is showing signs of heart disease due to the worm infestation then your veterinarian may do some additional testing.
How can it be treated?
Heartworms are treated by a series of injections. Sometimes the dog may need to be hospitalized other times the injections can be given on an outpatient basis. There are some risks with these injections such as the potential for blood clots. Dog owners must also be careful to restrict their dog’s physical activity during treatment as overexertion can be very harmful to your pet. It is important to note that treatment can be very expensive, which is why getting your dog on a heartworm preventative is the healthiest and most cost effective way to fight heartworms.
What is a heartworm preventative?
A heartworm preventative is essentially a medication that you can purchase from your vet that you can give your dog during the warmer months of the year (spring to first frost). Some dog parents choose to give Fido his heartworm preventative every month as it is easier to remember this way. The good news is that dogs tend to find this medication quite tasty and thus are willing to take it. Several companies make heartworm preventatives so it can’t hurt to do some research. Some veterinarians may even offer coupons.
NuVet understands that no dog owner wants to make the discovery that their beloved pooch has heartworms, which is why visiting with your vet to get your dog on a monthly regimen to prevent this nasty infection is so important. NuVet also believes that another way you can keep your pup healthy is by providing him with a healthy vitamin supplement like NuVet Plus. NuVet Plus is a specially formulated human grade supplement that we meticulously manufacture in our FDA registered laboratory. Dog owners who give their pups NuVet Plus have been delighted to find their dogs have improved energy and experiencing a higher quality of life. We regularly receive testimonials from puppy parents who share with us how their dogs have increased energy, shinier, more luxurious coats and better physical range of motion. We are proud to share these success stories on NuVet Reviews. To see what happy pet parents are saying about NuVet Plus, visit NuVet Reviews and read their amazing stories. You won’t be disappointed.