Heartworm is a dangerous parasite affecting dogs throughout the world, and dog owners should be aware of the symptoms and courses of treatment. The parasite manifests itself over the the course of several weeks or even months from egg to larvae to adult infestation in the heart and lungs. There are many symptoms that become increasingly apparent over time, but initial infection can often be invisible for weeks or months. Proper preventative steps should be followed by all pet owners. Symptoms of heartworm infection though are important to know, and are as follows:
Heartworm is a common illness for dogs, especially puppies, so keep these symptoms in mind to prevent major health issues:
1. Diarrhea or Loose Stools
This can be symptomatic of heartworm or any canine parasite.
Dogs suffering from heartworm infection may develop a cough.
3. Pot-bellied appearance
If you notice your puppy or adult dog develop a larger belly, she may be infected.
4. Lethargic behavior
Is your active and energetic pup slowing down lately and taking more naps? It could be a heartworm.
5. Appetite Change
Any big change in appetite in your doggie may be a cause for concern. Just like with other parasites, the heartworm will consume some of your dog’s nutrients and cause a drop or increase in your dog’s appetite.
6. Worms in dog poop
This symptoms is the most obvious of all: Do you see worms in the dog waste? Your dog has an infection and must be treated immediately.
Ok, so your dog has heartworm. No one likes to hear their dog has an illness, but fortunately this disease is very treatable if caught early. Always follow your veterinarians recommendations. At the moment, the only FDA-approved drug is ismelarsomine which is administered through injection. This will kill the worms over the course of the next one to three months, and your dog’s body will naturally pass the parasites.
Slow it Down
In this time, your veterinarian will recommend restricting exercise to allow the heart and lungs to heal properly. Following an exercise restrict may be difficult for active dogs and puppies, but further damage is possible with ignoring this direction.
Heartworm can generally be prevented through the use of a number of veterinary medicines. Ivermectin, sold as Heartgard and Iverhart are popular preventative medicines for heartworm. Ivermectin is also effective against other parasites lice, mites, and bed bugs. Moxidectin is another effective preventative medicine and is sold as Proheart 6 or 12. Your veterinarian will typically recommend a preventative medicine for your dog if you reside in a warm mosquito-laden area with a high temperature when the insects are active.
Healthy and Happy
Following these steps and keeping in mind the symptoms along with regular check ups with your veterinarian will keep your dog healthy and heartworm-free. Remember puppies are especially susceptible and can be passed parasites from their mother, so take extra caution if you have a newborn.