Why it is Important to Protect Your Dog from Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is one of the most serious conditions that can impact pets. This deadly parasite can live in the heart, the lungs, and the associated blood vessels, eventually causing severe damage to the cardiovascular system. When untreated, heartworm disease can lead to death in dogs of any age. This is one of the most invasive and difficult to treat parasitic infections that can impact various kinds of pets. You will always be wiser to prevent heartworm infection than to be forced to try to treat it once an infection has begun.

Heartworm can impact dogs, cats and ferrets and it is also present in wild mammal species like wolves, coyotes, and foxes. Dogs and other canine species are the natural hosts of these pests, and they are often the most susceptible to this parasite. If you have not been treating your pet for heartworm, you should make sure to speak with your veterinarian about this parasite and preventative care to keep your animals from being impacted by it.


Why You Should Protect Your Dog from Heartworm Disease

There are many areas of the country where heartworm is a common and ongoing threat to pets.

Heartworm is Being Found in More Areas of the US

Heartworm is spreading across the US each year, which means that areas that were formerly thought to be risk free are no longer considered to be without incidence of this parasite. You will want to assume that your dog can be exposed to heartworm no matter where you live in the United States.

Heartworm Can Be Undetected

Heartworm disease is very significant because it can be silent and undetected for many years before your pet starts to show symptoms. Shortness of breath, coughing, and bleeding from the nose and mouth can occur in animals that have a severe parasite load. In many cases, when symptoms have started to manifest, it might be too late to save the pet in question. Since these parasites cause lasting and permanent damage to the structures that they infect, there might be nothing that you can do for your pet but keep them comfortable.

Heartworm Can Be Difficult to Treat

The other risk related to heartworm disease is that advanced cases might be impossible to treat. The death of so many parasites all at once can lead to toxicity that can kill cats and dogs. When you pet is diagnosed with a severe case of heartworm, there might be nothing that can be done due to the risks related to killing the parasite and the extensive damage to your pet’s cardiovascular system.

You will want to be sure that you are not missing this important part of your routine preventative care for your pet each year. This is one of the hardest parasites to diagnose in the early stages since there are so few symptoms related to this condition until the parasitic load is heavy.

What Do I Do if My Pet Has Been Diagnosed with Heartworm?

Your veterinarian will advise you about the treatment protocol that is best for your pet.

Medication & Minimal Activity 

There are various kinds of medications that can be used to kill these parasites and your animal’s age, the severity of the infection and other variables might help determine which treatment plan is followed. Your pet will also need to be kept from exerting as the parasitic damage to the heart and lungs can be worsened through activity.

This can be the hardest part of treating this condition and very active pets might be tough to keep from overdoing it. Your vet might need to keep your pet on observation for a few days to make sure that they are staying peaceful and that they are not having an adverse reaction to treatment. Once your pet is home, the need to reduce activity will continue so long as there is damage to the heart and lungs that needs to heal.

Follow Your Vet’s Treatment Plan

Make sure that you follow the advice of your vet carefully so that you do not cause any secondary issues for your pet’s health. This is not a simple parasitic infection that can be dealt with in a matter of a few days. You will need to be patient with your pet’s recovery so that you do not cause additional stress that can further impact your pet’s health. This is a slow treatment and recovery process, and you will have to be willing to take all the right steps to make sure that your pet has the best possible chance to make a full recovery.

Your Dog Could Have Lifelong Limitations 

Many animals will suffer from lasting limitations related to their bout with heartworm, and you will need to be prepared that your pet might not ever get their full health back. This is often one of the most devastating parts of the heartworm treatment process, and you should be prepared for this outcome when your pet begins treatment. When you consider that this parasitic infection is so easily prevented, the thought that your pet might suffer lasting health issues related to an infection is heartbreaking.

It is Best to Prevent Heartworm Disease

As you have probably already learned from this guide, it is always best to prevent heartworm rather than being forced to treat it. This is a very deadly and serious parasitic infection that claims the lives of many pets each year. Offering your dog heartworm prevention treatments is easy, and you will be grateful for the peace of mind that comes with providing this kind of care for your beloved animals.

Preventing heartworm is always a much better bet than trying to treat it. Understanding the severity of this parasitic infection is essential if you want to attend to your pet’s health properly. While you might think that your region of the US is not prone to this kind of parasite, there are diagnosed cases each year in all 50 states. Being sure that your pet cannot get heartworm is always much better for peace of mind than hoping that they do not get this parasitic infection through luck alone.

If you have questions about your dog’s heartworm prevention plan, or need to set one up, talk with your Heart + Paw veterinarian by booking an appointment online at any of our locations!

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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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