Heartworm Disease is becoming increasingly more common in this area. Several cases are diagnosed each week.
The heartworm lives primarily in the right side of the heart, and in the nearby large blood vessels. The female worms produce large numbers of immature heartworms which circulate in the blood.
The microfilaria (baby heartworms) are ingested by a mosquito biting an infected dog. After living in the mosquito for 1-2 weeks, the microfilaria is injected into another dog when the mosquito feeds. It takes about six months for the heartworm to reach adulthood after infecting the dog.
The important thing for dog owners to remember is that a great deal of damage can occur before any obvious signs are noticed. Delayed treatment may result in heart failure and/or permanent damage to the liver, lungs, and kidneys with eventual death.
The signs of heartworm disease which you are most likely to notice include coughing, sluggishness, rapid tiring, and labored breathing.
Diagnosis is made by finding the microfilaria in a blood sample. It will be six or seven months after exposure before microfilaria can be detected in the blood.
Treatment for heartworms consists of killing the adult worms with inject able medication.
The dog may be required to stay at the hospital for 3-4 days.
After treatment, the adult worms die and are carried by the blood to the lungs where they lodge in small blood vessels. There they decompose and are absorbed by the body over a period of several months.
Reactions to the drugs are not uncommon, and there is always some risk involved in treating a dog for heartworms.
Following treatment, complete is needed to prevent lung damage from the dead, decomposing worms for 6-8 weeks.
The microfilaria will be killed with an injection approximately 4-6 weeks after treatment to rid the dog of the adult heartworms.
We have a very high degree of success in treating heartworm disease when we get an early diagnosis, before severe heart damage has taken place. Physical examination and laboratory testing will determine whether or not your pet should undergo treatment once heartworms are diagnosed.
Heartworm Post-Treatment Instructions
Medications: Please Use the Below Checked Medications:
- Antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.
- Supplements to help the liver tolerate the drugs and dead worms.
- Blood thinners to aid circulation.
- Other medications as directed.
- Enforced Rest is ESSENTIAL!
- Positively NO Strenuous Exercise for 8 weeks!
The heartworms will die over the next 6 weeks. As they die and are broken down, pieces of them could lodge in other parts of the body’s blood vessels, causing unnecessary complications--if your pet’s activity is too strenuous. THE FIRST 30 DAYS AFTER TREATMENT ARE THE MOST CRITICAL! It is best to limit your pet to leash exercise only long enough to urinate and have bowel movements. Avoid all excitable circumstances and stress as much as possible.
- Maintain a Dry, Stable Environment.
- Do NOT leave outside in extremely hot weather.
- Fresh water at all times.
Notify the Clinic if ANY of the following occur:
- Coughing FREQUENTLY
- Refusal to eat.
- Blood in the urine or bowel movements.
- Labored breathing.
- Anything else unusual for your dog.
Two weeks after that injection, you will need to return for a blood test. If that test indicates that all heartworms have been destroyed, we will prescribe heartworm preventive medication for you to start to prevent reinfection. Since the drugs used to treat heartworms can be toxic to the pet, it is important that we take all precautions to prevent heartworm reinfestation in your pet.
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