Heartworms in Dogs: Understanding the ThreatA heartworm infestation is one of the most dreaded diseases in dogs. As their name suggests, heartworms infect the heart and can stay there until they die. However, they sometimes end up in other parts of the body such as the brain, eyes, and legs. But it is in the heart that they hurt a dog the most.
How do these parasites get inside your dogs? It all starts when a mosquito bites a dog that already has heartworms and feeds on blood that has heartworm larvae. Then that same mosquito bites another dog and transfers the larvae to it. These larvae are released into the bloodstream, and since all blood has to pass through the heart, the heartworm larvae reaches the heart and stays there until it matures. After 4 to 6 months, these adult heartworms make their presence felt and they may start to affect the health of the dog. Symptoms of heartworm infestation Heartworms in dogs can be fatal because they can cause a blockage either in a valve of the heart or in one of the blood vessels. Aside from this, the dog's immune system also weakens and other symptoms start to show such as lung infections, continuous coughing, loss of appetite, and lack of energy. Prevention is still king Although a vet can treat a dog with heartworm infestation, the treatment can be dangerous because there is no guarantee that every dog can survive it. Therefore, preventing your dog from getting any heartworms is still the best course of action. One way you can do this is to make sure that your dog regularly visits the vet to be checked for any heartworms or other parasites. The vet can recommend or prescribe an oral or topical drug that are applied once a month to keep these worms away from the heart. Do you know of any other ways to prevent your dog from getting infected with heartworms? Comment on this article to share your knowledge to other dog owners.