The most common disease affecting dogs worldwide is canine heartworm (CHWD). Heartworm worms that live in the pulmonary arteries of dogs cause the disease. Although it is called “heartworm,” the worms only live in a dog’s heart if the infection is severe.
Heartworm can stress your dog’s heart, causing a violent reaction in the blood vessels that can lead to a variety of serious health issues. Mosquitoes are the vectors responsible for transmitting heartworm to dogs. As a result, there is a high risk of heartworm outbreaks in tropical areas where the temperature and humidity are ideal for mosquitoes.
When an infected heartworm mosquito bites or inadvertently consumes heartworm larvae, the heartworm can enter the dog’s blood vessels and live there. Within 3 to 4 months, the larvae develop and even travel to the heart, where they mature into adults and repeat the infection process.
The effects of heartworm disease in dogs can differ depending on how long the disease has been present. Dogs do not show symptoms when they are newly infected or only mildly infected. Heartworm disease, on the other hand, can be severely debilitating and even fatal in some cases. Dogs are rarely diagnosed with heartworm disease because it is so simple to prevent.
Heartworm disease in dogs does not show symptoms until the disease has advanced, especially if the heart is infested with the parasite. Symptoms are frequently caused by heart failure, so pay close attention if your dog exhibits:
- A lot of breathing
- Lazy exercise or insufficient physical activity
- Bloating, coughing, and shortness of breath are symptoms of congestive heart failure (right side).
Canine heartworm disease diagnosis
The following tests are used to diagnose canine heartworm disease:
- Larval enrichment methods: These methods, which include the Harris method, the microporous membrane method, and the larval enrichment method, aim to detect heartworm larvae parasitized by adults in blood vessels arising from the pulmonary arteries. formalin and viewed through a microscope).
- Serology test: This test determines the amount of protein produced by heartworms in the blood. Serum testing is extremely accurate and risk-free.
- A thorough physical exam will reveal any medical conditions your dog may be suffering from at the same time.
- Special Laboratory Tests: A complete blood count, biochemical profile, and urinalysis are performed to assess the dog’s health and stability for treatment.
- An X-ray of your dog’s chest will help your veterinarian assess the severity of the disease and recommend treatment, as well as provide warnings about your dog’s susceptibility to the disease.
- Heart function testing will include an echocardiogram (to locate an abnormal bulge in the heart or to detect heartworms) and an electrocardiogram (to evaluate the electrical activity of the heart and heartbeat). While an EKG is not on the list of tests used to diagnose heartworm in dogs, if your dog is exhibiting severe symptoms, your veterinarian may recommend one.
Heartworm Treatment for Dogs
Give your dog doxycycline, an antibiotic. It’s a medication used to treat popcorn bacteria, which is an intermediate organism in the spread of heartworm.
Adult heartworms are killed
Give your dog the following veterinary-recommended vaccinations:
- Melarsomine (Immiticide®): This drug is continuously injected deep into the dog’s back muscle (once a day for two days in a row) or every other day (a month after the first injection, followed by a second injection). second and third, with the final two stitches a day apart). Melarsomine is a medication that is both safe and effective.
- Thioacetamide sodium (Caparsolate®): This medication is administered intravenously to the dog. For two days, dogs will receive two injections per day, 8 hours apart. However, because this medication is not available on the market, you must visit a veterinary clinic.
Heartworm larvae are killed
This treatment should only be given to dogs who have tested positive for heartworm larvae. Use the following drugs after killing all adult heartworm worms:
- Milbemycin (Interceptor®): Use this medication once a month to keep heartworm larvae at bay.
- Ivermectin (Ivomec®): Can be taken orally or subcutaneously to prevent parasites in general, and especially heartworm larvae.
Caring for a Heartworm-Infected Dog at Home
- Limit your movement. This is the most crucial aspect of treatment. Light exercise should be given to the dog one month after the heartworm has been cured. Ideally, you should give your dog a break. To be therapeutically effective, hyperactive dogs will need to be sedated.
- Limit the dog’s regular exercise because when the drug kills the parasites in the arteries, they can dislodge and travel through the blood vessels, resulting in pulmonary thrombosis. A pulmonary thrombosis is a blood vessel blockage that causes a pulmonary infarction. As a result, limit physical activity for dogs and allow their bodies to gradually destroy and eliminate heartworms in dogs.
- Aspirin. To reduce the lung response to the euthanized heartworm, the dog was given aspirin.
- Prednisone. When your dog has pneumonia and a severe cough, give medication before treating him for heartworm.
- Be wary of complications (eg, pulmonary thrombosis). A veterinary clinic visit is required to observe for clinical signs of pulmonary embolism. In dogs, pulmonary thrombosis can result in sudden death. Following Immitinf® injections, dogs may experience back pain.
Canine heartworm disease prevention
Because heartworm prevention is simple, every dog should be protected. The following medications can be given to dogs on a monthly basis:
- Milbemycin oxime (Interceptor Flavor Tabs®)
- Milbemycin oxime (Sentinel Flavor Tabs®)
- Ivermectin (Heartgard®)
- Selamectin (Revolution®)
- Moxidectin (Pro Heart®)
DEC (Decacide®, Nemacide®) can be given to dogs on a daily basis to prevent heartworm. This daily one is capable of completely replacing the monthly one. Although DEC is both effective and inexpensive, it must be administered to dogs on a daily basis. If you forget to give your dog water one day, you must take it for a heartworm test and then give it medicine.