Image Source: Staticflickr.com/
Heartworm is a serious medical condition that affects dogs and cats, especially in the United States. The disease is caused when parasitic worms, measuring up to a foot long, enter the host’s heart, blood vessels, and lungs. The infection leads to various medical complications such as lung disease and even heart failure.
Heartworms complete an entire life cycle within the host’s body. What that means is they grow, mate, and breed inside your dog’s body, and if left untreated, their numbers can go from hundreds to thousands. But, even with treatment, heartworms cause enough long-term damage to your dog’s body. As a result, your dog may never fully recover.
This is where the prevention approach is the best approach. So, how do you prevent heartworm infection? Well, there are primarily three categories of heartworm medication that prevent infection. This article will help you learn about these medications and make a decision that is suitable for your dog.
But before understanding the medication for these diseases, it’s important to know what causes such diseases in your pet.
What Causes Heartworm?
Heartworm is a disease that affects dogs and cats. It's caused by a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis, which is transmitted to dogs and cats through mosquitoes. The mosquitoes generally pick up the parasite from an infected dog or cat and then pass it on to other animals when they bite them.
The signs of heartworm disease vary depending on how far advanced the infection is, but they generally include breathing problems, coughing, weight loss, loss of appetite, exercise intolerance, and muscle pain.
The severity of heartworm disease depends on how many worms your pet has in its system. A large number of worms can cause severe illness and even death.
Monthly Oral Medication
Being a pet parent, you often wonder how to begin with heartworm prevention. Heartworm prevention for dogs and cats can involve different methods, but oral medication is the most popular choice among pet owners.
These are the most common type of preventive heartworm medication. They come in the form of chewables or tablets. The key ingredient in such heartworm medicines is either milbemycin or ivermectin. There was a time when heartworm medication had to be administered daily, but thanks to medical advancement, you have options that can be administered just once a month. Plus, they are far more effective as well. Oral Medication like Heartgard Plus is a popular choice among vets and pet parents.
The Heartgard Plus for dogs and cats for heartworm prevention is capable of eliminating the heartworm larvae and also other parasites such as hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. In fact, cat and dog heartworm meds are options that work against fleas as well. As the name suggests, these medications need to be administered orally, which means your dog has to chew or swallow them completely.
Injectable Heartworm Medication
Next, we have injectable medication to prevent heartworms. The key ingredient in these medications is moxidectin. The best part about this medication is that it almost works like a vaccine. One injection can protect your dog for 6 months. The injection can wipe out heartworm larvae and even hookworms. However, there have been side effects noted with these injections. Therefore, restrictions tend to exist with regard to their usage. You will need a trained vet to administer these injections. He/she must also note down the lot number of the injection and observe your dog for side effects. Side effects need to be reported if present.
Topical Heartworm Medication
There are also a few topical medication options for heartworm prevention. They can be applied on your dog’s body, behind the neck, and between the shoulder blades. The good news is that this needs to be done only on a monthly basis. There are topical options that contain selamectin as well. Selamectin helps fight ticks, ear mites, and mange mites. Then, there are options with moxidectin as well. One key thing to remember is that these topical medications are toxic and should not be ingested. So, make sure your dog doesn’t lick or bite the areas where the topical agent has been applied.
A Serious Disease That Requires Proper Treatment and Care
Heartworm is a serious disease that requires proper treatment and care. Heartworm preventatives are available in the market to help you ensure your pet is protected against this deadly disease.
Heartworm is a parasite that lives in the heart and lungs of dogs and cats, causing heart failure in some animals. It is transmitted by mosquitoes, which pick up the larvae from the blood of infected dogs and cats, then bite other animals to infect them.
Heartworm can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. Treatment consists of giving an injectable medication for three months to kill off the worms and prevent further damage, as well as oral medications for another three months to prevent reinfection after several weeks of recovery time for the dog or cat. Oral medications include heartworm meds for dogs and cats or heartworm pills for dogs and cats. Oral medicines like Advantage for Cats and Advantage Multi for Dogs have been effective against heartworm.