Though areas with smaller mosquito populations may seem
safe from this disease, cases of heartworm in pets have
been found in all 50 states, including Alaska. Giving
your pets heartworm prevention
medication, like Revolution, Heartgard Plus Chewables, or
for dogs, is the best way to make sure your pets
avoid contracting it no matter where you reside. You
can also administer Interceptor Plus for dogs which
prevent both heartworms and intestinal worms.
What Happens When You Don’t Treat Heartworm?
Heartworm is a roundworm parasite that is transmitted
to dogs through mosquitos. Preventative medicine,
like Iverhart, Advantage Multi,
or Tri-Heart Plus,
is the best way to keep your pet protected from
heartworm, but if your dog contracts this disease,
consultation with your vet is essential.
Most dogs with heartworm can undergo some
form of treatment, but they should be evaluated for
heart, liver, and kidney function first to assess
certain risks. Some dogs with heartworm can fight the
disease off without treatment, but the risk of death or
serious damage to your pet’s health is high.
Risks Associated With Untreated Heartworm Include:
issues: Heartworms take residence in
pulmonary arteries, and at advanced stages, in the
lungs. These parasites wreak havoc as they migrate
through the organs, causing inflammatory changes and
damaging tissue. Coughing is a symptom of heartworm
that has affected the lungs, and your pet may have
shortness of breath and cough both during exercise
and while sedentary.
who were once healthy and active will show less
endurance with a continued infection of heartworm. A
sign of heartworm is listlessness and pets who appear
tired, and these symptoms will endure if the disease
goes untreated. Minor activity can cause shortness of
breath and coughing, and as the disease worsens, most
dogs will avoid exercise.
oxygen: As heartworms begin to grow, they
will crowd the dog’s heart chambers. This slows down
blood flow and decreases the oxygen supply to the
dog’s body. Dogs may experience loss of consciousness
due to poor blood flow to the brain, and lack of
oxygen will contribute to inactivity.
damage: The heart, lungs, kidneys, and
liver are at risk of major damage from untreated
heartworm disease. Heartworms can live up to seven
years in vital organs and indirectly affect other
organs like the kidneys from related stress. Their
presence can cause permanent and irreversible damage
to these organs, other tissues, arteries, and blood
can cause sudden death, and some dogs die from
heartworm without showing symptoms. The disease
typically progresses over several years, and can
eventually lead to death due to heart failure, blood
clots, bleeding in the lungs, and caval syndrome.
If your pet shows signs of canine heartworm disease, be
sure to consult your veterinarian to choose the best
course of action.