Since the year 2012 there have been more than 100 cases of heartworm infection all over Australia. Out of which 25% of dogs over the age of 7 years are affected by heart diseases. This has raised curiosity amongst pet-parents about heart diseases in dogs. Heart diseases are caused in dogs by many reasons, heartworms being one of them. It is a very critical and deadly disease. But the positive aspect of the disease is that it is preventable.
Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic nematode called Dirofilaria immitis. The regions where Dirofilaria is affected are 100% more likely to suffer from heartworm infestation. This happens when a mosquito bites the dog and tiny worms enter into the body of your pet. They grow in the body for six to seven months residing in the heart and blood vessels of the lungs. They grow up to 30 cm in length. A dog can be infected by a single or multiple heartworms.
Although this disease is totally preventable if it is left undiagnosed for a longer time, especially in the earlier part of the disease it can result in deadly consequences. This disease is highly infectious and can affect other pets. It has been found that in Australia alone around 20% of dogs are affected by heartworm disease.
Heartworm is more found in areas where there are lots of mosquitoes or where there is a warmer climate. But the lethal thing about the disease is that it can affect over 30 different species of animals comprising of wolves, cats, coyotes and in some rare cases even human beings.
Let us now look at some of the symptoms of heartworm disease in dogs:
Dogs often fall ill with cough. This is one of the primary symptoms of heartworm disease. If it is a minor cough it will get treated in several days. But even after 3-4 days if your dog is still facing the same problem then it is best to seek the advice of the veterinary physician.
Finding it hard to breath
Frequent changes in the breathing pattern in the dog also indicate that they are suffering from heartworm disease. This can be accompanied by rapid breathing, shortness of breath or laboured breathing.
If you find that your dog is becoming tired very easily, is showing reluctance to exercise, displaying withdrawal symptoms, appearing in depression then all these are signs of heartworm disease.
Loss of appetite
Loss of appetite highlights that your dog is suffering from an illness. If it is accompanied with either of the symptoms mentioned in this list, then it is a strong indicator of heartworm disease.
Sudden weight loss or gain
Weight loss is a major indicator that your dog is suffering from heartworm disease. However, weight gain can also be a symptom. Your dog may show signs of being bloated, which can be an early indication to heartworm disease.
If the dog faints or collapses, then it is better to take the help of vet immediately. It can indicate that your pet is suffering from some sort of illness and heartworm disease is one of them.
If your dog shows the signs of seclusion and wants to stay alone by isolating himself from other pets it is an early indication of heartworm disease.
Thankfully, heartworm disease in your pet is treatable by undertaking any of these treatments after consultation with a veterinarian: Revolution for dogs, Heartgard Plus Chewables, Nuheart for dogs, Valuheart Heartworm Tablets, and Interceptor Spectrum Tasty Chews. It is recommended to initiate heartworm preventative treatment in dogs from the age of 3 months. You can give monthly dosage of the treatment and can then switch to injections at a later stage. Especially in Australia, it is highly recommended to give heartworm preventive the entire year as there are mosquitoes all year long in the country. This ingenious treatment is the only way to control this deadly parasite from affecting the lives of your precious pets.