Canine HEARTWORM Disease
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CANINE HEARTWORM DISEASE . . .
is a serious, deadly disease wherever mosquitoes are present. Each year thousands of dogs become permanently debilitated or die from lung, heart or kidney problems caused by heartworms. Your dog can have heartworms for many months before symptoms are obvious. By then the disease may be difficult or impossible to treat successfully, therefore annual blood testing and monthly prevention are recommended for all dogs.
SYMPTOMS . . .
Heartworm Life Cycle
An infected dog becomes less active and tires easily. Coughing, weight loss, chronic fatigue and fainting may appear in advanced disease stages. Adult heartworms are found in the heart, lungs and major
blood vessels. Heartworms can grow from 5 to 14 inches long. In severe cases, a hundred or more worms have been found in a single heart. Additionally, problems in the liver and a rapidly progressive fatal form of kidney disease may result.
TESTING . . .
FOR DOGS WITH NO HISTORY OF TICK EXPOSURE:
Standard Antigen Test: Detects the presence of adult heartworms.
FOR DOGS WITH HISTORY OF EXPOSURE TO TICKS:
SNAP 4 Test: Detects the presence of adult heartworms AND exposure to 3 common tick-borne diseases seen in the Mid-West. (Will not detect antibodies from vaccination).
LYME DISEASE — Animals show signs of fever, lack of energy and appetite, lameness, swollen lymph glands and occasionally, fatal kidney disease. Many dogs are sub clinically infected and show no signs of disease.
EHRLICHIA CANIS INFECTION AND ANAPLASMOSIS INFECTION — Animals show signs of lethargy, depression, lack of appetite, fever, spontaneous bleeding (bloody nose), respiratory distress, eye inflammation and gait abnormalities.
If your dog is positive for Lyme Disease, your doctor will recommend a confirmatory titer and blood work be done to assess your dog’s risk of disease. If your dog is positive for Ehrlichia or Anaplasmosis, your doctor will recommend some additional blood work to check to see if your pet is showing any blood or chemical abnormalities — and then appropriate therapy can be instituted as needed.
PREVENTION . . .
Puppies < 9 months of age do not need to be blood tested for heartworms. They should begin taking heartworm prevention as soon as they are eight weeks of age. Annual testing is required for puppies over 9 months of age and all dogs, even with year-round use of the medication. No medication is 100% and clinical signs are only seen very late in the course of the disease. Make sure your pet is tested and protected. Don’t gamble with your pet’s life!
TREATMENT . . .
is costly, and can be life threatening in and of itself. Successful treatment depends on early detection and close veterinary supervision. If permanent damage has occurred, prognosis is very poor. We are happy to say that most of our clients who own dogs do have them tested for heartworms and put them on monthly preventative medication annually. The preventative medications usually cost from $3 to $10 per month, depending on the size of the dog.
Heartworm preventatives come in both chewable beef flavored form or in non-chewables.
There is also a topical form of preventative that will also control fleas and one type of tick. Which kind you choose depends on what is easier for you to give your puppy /dog.
Why risk problems for your pet or for your family?
Not only are heartworm medications reasonably priced but many of them now prevent roundworms, whipworms and hookworms as well. That is why we recommend that you keep your dog on heartworm preventative year round. – In order to keep your dog and family free from risk of one of these parasitic infections.
We recommend having a stool sample checked for intestinal parasites at the time the heartworm test is done. If the stool sample is positive for intestinal parasites, your pet will need deworming to kill adult intestinal worms. The heartworm preventatives given after that will prevent your dog from becoming reinfested with the intestinal parasites. Eggs of intestinal parasites survive on grass for long periods of time, so without the heartworm medication, it is very common for dogs to pick up intestinal parasites repeatedly from their yard.
Untreated animals spread disease. Please don’t let yours be one!
Unfortunately, heartworm disease is here to stay, as there will always be dog owners who do not choose to put their pets on a heartworm prevention program and there are wild dogs in our area, such as coyotes. These unprotected animals serve as a reservoir, spreading the disease to other dogs. Please don’t let your dog become a victim of this deadly disease.
FACT… All dogs, regardless of age, sex, size or breed, are at risk wherever mosquitoes are present. It takes only ONE infected mosquito to infect your dog.
FACT… Heartworm Disease can kill your dog.
FACT… Effective, easy-to-use preventive medication can save your dog’s life!