How Do Dogs Get Heartworm?

www.fda.gov

What are the first signs of heartworms in dogs?

Signs of heartworm disease may include a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite, and weight loss. As heartworm disease progresses, pets may develop heart failure and the appearance of a swollen belly due to excess fluid in the abdomen.

How likely is it for a dog to get heartworms?

Now let’s do some math. The risk of a dog’s being infected with heartworm disease each year is 250,000 out of 50,000,000; this translates to one in 200 dogs becoming infected each year. The chance that you will be diagnosed with cancer this year is about one in 200—the same odds as a dog’s acquiring heartworm disease.

Can heartworm in dogs be cured?

First, the facts about heartworm disease: It is not contagious from animal to animal–it is spread by mosquitoes. However, the only way to treat a dog that has already contracted heartworm disease is through your vet–using a preventative will not cure the disease. Both cats and dogs can contract heartworm disease.

What is the cause of heartworm in dogs?

Heartworm disease is a serious disease that results in severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and death in pets, mainly dogs, cats, and ferrets. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. The worms are spread through the bite of a mosquito.

Do dogs poop out heartworms?

Unlike intestinal parasites, however, which, once killed, can simply be passed in the animal’s stool, heartworms, once dead, do not have an easy way to be eliminated from the body. The dog’s immune system must break down the dead worms, an elimination process which is very effective but does take some time.

What happens if you give a dog heartworm medicine and they have heartworms?

Dogs with heartworms can have a severe, possibly life-threatening reaction to the dying, circulating microfilariae (adult heartworm offspring) if given these heartworm medications. This can happen even if you continue to give heartworm medication because those medications kill only early stage larvae.

How Long Can dogs live with untreated heartworms?

Organ damage: The heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver are at risk of major damage from untreated heartworm disease. Heartworms can live up to seven years in vital organs, and indirectly affect other organs like the kidneys from related stress.

Can dogs feel heartworms?

During the first stage of heartworm disease, dogs generally will not have any symptoms at all, although you may notice a slight cough. Even with a physical, this disease is difficult to detect, and blood tests may come back with a negative result for heartworm disease.

Can I give my dog heartworm medicine without testing?

It’s important to never give Heartgard to any pet that has not been tested for heartworm disease. Heartworm preventative medication such as Heartgard cannot kill adult heartworms, but instead kills the baby heartworms known as microfilariae.