When approximately 164 million people in America have a dog or a cat for a pet there’s many diseases to be concerned about but let’s talk about a very common infection that can be contracted by your pet.
Heartworm The infection is most commonly known as canine heartworm or dog heartworm, but it can also infect cats and other types of animals. However, dogs can have more than 30 worms while cats tend to have less than six. How severe heartworm disease is in dogs depends on how many worms it has and just one or two can make a cat very sick.
How does it spread? The mediator for this disease is the mosquito. The mosquito will bite a dog that is already infected and ingest a larvae which then will develop in the infected stage. At this point, if the mosquito bites a healthy dog, the larvae will be deposited into that dog and it will get the infection.
What is it? Heartworm is a type of filaria which is a small thread like worm.
Where does it affect? Generally, the parasite resides in the heart and the lungs and if left untreated can actually lead to death from congestive heart failure.
How can it be treated or even avoided? There is a canine heartworm antigen test kit that can be preformed. Early detection is the key to dealing with this infection so having this heartworm antigen test kit done every year is recommended. You can also give your pet a monthly preventative which compared to the $1000 you would spend on treatment, is well worth the cost.The heartworm antigen test kit is to be administered only by your vet so do not try to attempt to buy the kit and administer it yourself. You could end up hurting your dog.
When should a dog be tested? Well this depends on a few things.
- The age of the dog when you began to prevent heartworm.
- Whether or not the owner remembered to give the dog heartworm prevention and if he forgot, for how long.
- If the dog has been switched from one prevention type to another.
- If the dog traveled recently to where heartworm disease is more common than in his home.
- If the dog is older than six or seven months and heartworm prevention is going to begin, he should be tested beforehand.
- As mentioned, annually is recommended.
Symptoms do not always show up right away so a dog may appear to be healthy but have heartworm disease inside him.
Class one has no symptoms and can not be detected from the outside except for an occasional cough from time to time.
Class two adds fatigue after moderate activity to the occasional cough.
Class three brings the cough to a more frequent occurrence, as well as being tired after moderate activity. Additional signs at this stage are trouble breathing and signs of heart failure. During class two and three, the heart and lung failure will show up on a chest x-ray.
Class four is also known as caval syndrome. The only treatment at this point is surgery to quickly remove all heartworms and even then the animal may not make it.
Ensure you are up to date with the heartworm preventative and ask your dentist about a heartworm antigen test kit.