Heartworm Treatment for Dogs

Pet owners love their dogs. These canine friends can become more like family members. Because of that, any problems and health issues the dog goes through bring about a handful of worries for the owners. There are actually a number of diseases a dog can get, but knowing about heartworm treatment for dogs is a must considering how serious this condition can get.

Heartworms are nematode worms called Dirofilaria immitis. Adult heartworms live inside the heart of an infected dog. With the help of mosquitoes, this disease can be easily transmitted between canines. When a mosquito bites a dog infected with heartworms, it becomes infected as well. When it bites another dog, the heartworm infection is passed on to that dog.

The larval form of heartworms can go through the infectious stage. This is the time when the heartworm becomes most potent for infection when transferred from one dog to another. When the heartworm gets inside the newly infected dog, it continues to grow and mature until it reaches the heart of the canine. This usually takes about four to six months.

These heartworms have the heart as the goal. An infected dog can actually have hundreds of adult heartworms in their hearts. The most common symptoms of heartworm infection include coughing and difficulty in breathing, depression and listlessness as well as the lack of tolerance for exercise. One can also observe the obvious accumulation of fluid in the dog’s abdomen, and the pet may experience fainting.

There is only one medication known to be an effective heartworm treatment for dogs. This is Immiticide, which is simply injected to the lumbar muscle of the dog. There are two ways of giving this medication to the dog. It can be given in a series of two injections with a 24-hour difference or in a series of three injections wherein the second injection is given 30 days after the first one and the third one is given 24 hours after the second.

Since Immiticide is an arsenic compound and has toxic components, it poses a great threat on the dog’s overall health. This is the main reason behind the great controversy on which one of the two protocols is the most effective. The latter involves lesser damage to the lungs and other complications but takes effect more slowly.

For dogs that have been highly infected with heartworms and are actively showing severe cases of the disease, Immiticide may put their lives in greater danger. Another option available for these cases is an ivermectine based preventive meds given monthly. This is technically less dangerous for the dog’s life but has been proven to effectively kill the heartworms in their infectious form. A disadvantage of this medication is how lengthy the process can be. It may take months to years before the adult worms completely disappear. In short, the dog’s heart is at constant risk as the worms continue to thrive in the heart and cause further damage to it.

Dog owners acknowledge the risk of heartworm infections as well as that of the heartworm treatment for dogs. Despite the inability to completely prevent this infection, dog lovers are still persistent in being there for their loyal canine friends.