Understanding the Heartworm Disease in your Pet Dog


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The United States of American and several other countries of the world have reported the existence of a very serious, possibly fatal medical condition in their pets called the โ€œHeartwormโ€ disease.

What Causes Heartworm Disease in Dogs?

The cause behind the heartworm disease is foot-long worms, called heartworms, which make home inside the lungs, heart and connected blood vessels in an affected animal. This leads to serious problems such as heart failure, lung disease and irrevocable damage to various other body organs.When a dog suffers from heartworm disease, it is infested by an organism termed as the Direfilaria immitis. This is nothing but a parasitic nematode or roundworm, also commonly called the heartworm. How severe is the condition will depend on the quantity of worms in the affected dogโ€™s body, the infestation duration and the way in which the host reacts to the infestation.

Common Signs of Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Here are some of the symptoms that may indicate that your dog is suffering from heartworm disease:

  1. A dry and soft coughIn heartworm disease, the parasites typically end up in the lungs and begin to multiple inside the lungs as well as the surrounding veins. Vets inform that coughing post exercise, followed by fainting, is among the most common signs of the heartworm disease. In fact, even moderate to light exercise could result in fainting.
  2. Extreme weight loss/anorexiaWhen a dog suffers from heartworm disease, even short-time physical activities like eating, could become challenging and tiring chores. Hence, it is common for affected dogs to lose significant amounts of weight in heartworm disease.
  3. LethargyYour pet might suddenly appear too tired and feel reluctant to go out and undertake any sort of physical activity. This is because heartworm disease causes severe weakness in dogs making it difficult for them to perform even small tasks.Some of the other symptoms of heartworm disease in dogs include bulging chest, nosebleed, allergic reactions, high blood pressure, secondary pneumonia, excessive sleeping etc.
Treatment of Heartworm Disease in Dogs

In the initial part of the treatment, most dogs are hospitalized and are administered an adulticide formulated for killing the adult heartworms. It is possible to remove the microfilariae from the body with the help of a monthly prophylaxis.In severe cases of heartworm disease, i.e. when dogs experience thromboembolic complications (formation of blood clot which breaks and enters the blood stream resulting in another clotted vessel), it might be necessary to extend hospitalization. It is possible to prevent heartworm disease with the help of medication for heartworm prophylaxis, as prescribed by a vet.

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