This is an important question for every dog owner out there. Should I be giving my dog heartworm medicine? Do they need it? What happens if I don’t? If you’re reading this, you’re taking the right steps in learning more about this dangerous disease, and how to prevent your dog from getting infected with it.
First off, heartworms live just about all over North America, so if you and your pet live, or visit North America, there is a chance your pet could contract heartworm disease. In the past, the disease was confined only to the southern most parts of the United States of America. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case as the disease as rapidly spread across the entire continent and even into the southern parts of Canada. Heartworm is transmitted via mosquitoes, so this parasite can travel rapidly and easily across large stretches of land. It’s even gaining a foothold in South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. So even if there isn’t a high incidence of heartworm disease in your country yet, because of the nature of technology and travel today you could be seeing the disease in your area very soon. So you might want to speak to a vet soon about getting your dog heartworm medicine, because the disease is so prevalent across the globe.
Let’s say you haven’t given your dog heartworm medicine, is he in danger of contracting the disease? Anywhere there are mosquitoes, there is the potential for this parasite to spread. If your dog gets bitten by a mosquito carrying heartworm disease, the larvae are transferred into your pet’s bloodstream where they begin to incubate. At this point, it’s difficult to tell if a dog has been infected with heartworm disease, as symptoms don’t become visible for at least 6-7 months (this is known as the “prepatent period”). Once the disease has firmly gained a foothold into your pet’s body, your doggy’s health is now in danger. That’s why it’s important to prevent the disease, rather than treat it, and giving your dog heartworm medicine is the best way to prevent this deadly disease.
If your dog is diagnosed with the disease, your vet will most likely indicate that treatment is needed. If the disease has been allowed to progress to this point, there may be heart, liver, or kidney damage and your vet will have to evaluate their health to see if there are any risks to treating the disease at this point. After your dog has been treated, the worms will be dead but still present in your pet’s heart. Your dog will need to rest for several weeks, because the worms could potentially break loose if your dog is physically active. This can be extremely dangerous, especially if the worm travels to a critical part of their body (such as the lungs).
This disease is so difficult to detect because of the 6 month long prepatent period while the worms mature. Speak to your vet about giving your dog heartworm medicine, because the risks are so great. A little bit of preventative medicine could save you thousands of dollars in vet bills treating the disease, or even worse, your pet could die.
Linda is an experienced veterinarian who recommends that every owner give their dog Heartworm Medicine.