Heartworm in dogs can be treated variously. Both dogs and cats can suffer from heartworm, but the illness and treatment is actually different. You have to know the causes and symptoms of dog heartworm in order to be able to treat the disease respectively. The disease was spreading in wet and warm areas in the past. However, nowadays it is spread globally. The disease can be diagnosed easily and it can be treated right away.
What is dirofilaria immitis?
Dirofilaria immitis is transferred by mosquitoes as they bite their victims. Dirofilaria immitis is actually a roundworm and it travels from one host to another through blood. It is a slim and fiber like creature. Mammals are the place where this worm completes the life cycle. The worm has to complete the life cycle. The dog heartworm can live for years. Its residence is in the heart’s right ventricle of the dog. Common symptoms of heartworm in dogs are anorexia, weight loss, rapid breathing, lethargy and reluctance to play and exercise, and coughing. The worms steadily gather in the dog’s body and symptoms or some other signs of the infection may not be visible for months.
Dog heartworm symptoms
The symptoms of dog heartworm may not appear right after the infection. They may be even undetectable through the parasite’s early adulthood. It is very hard to find visible symptoms in sedentary dogs. In active dogs and ones that are highly infected, there are some visible symptoms. The symptoms of heartworm are cough during exercise and exhaustion after light exercise. Sometimes, the heartworms tend to migrate through the dog’s body and they may cause lameness, blindness and seizures in the brain.
Diagnosis of heartworm
It is advisable to test your dog once or twice a year with an inexpensive and simple blood test that should diagnose possible heartworm infection. If the heartworm is detected early, the treatment prognosis will be better. Heartworm in dogs is staged in levels. There are stages I to IV and they are based on the infection’s severity. It is clear that you can treat an infection stage I better than an infection stage IV. The diagnosis for a heartworm is carried out with a simple blood test. The test should detect the antigens that are secreted by female worms. The dogs with a positive blood test for heartworm should have an X-ray of the heart. The X-ray is to see to which extent the worm has populated in the heart. The treatment may be a long process. Adult heartworms usually take months to die. If a dog is diagnosed with this condition, it has to be evaluated so that you are sure the dog is strong and able to take the treatment. After the treatment is over, the dog should rest for several months. This has to be done in order to stop any dead worms from invading the dog’s lungs. It is also possible to consider surgery that should remove the heartworms. However, it is pretty dangerous to take that step.