One question that dog owners ask is whether their dogs really need heartworm pills. There is much conflicting information on this topic. Some people claim that heartworm can not live in the heart and so dogs are not affected by heartworm at all, while others claim that heartworm can cause serious health problems for dogs. If you have a dog, it’s a good idea to get him or her checked every year.
So how does heartworm affect dogs? Like most forms of disease, heartworm occurs when your dog ingests an infected mosquito and then contracts a form of heartworm disease. There are many different species of heartworm and some are more likely to infect dogs than other breeds. The most common heartworm infections affect dogs that have long hair. Some of these are Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund, and English Spaniel.
To prevent heartworm infection, your dog should have regular heartworm checks performed. Some of the symptoms of heartworm include appetite loss, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and blood in the stool or urine. If you suspect your dog has heartworm, he or she should be tested right away. Dogs that aren’t treated early can become seriously ill. Untreated heartworm infections can result in heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and even death.
So how much heartworm medication do dogs really need? Most experts agree that it’s best to avoid exposing your dog to heartworm. However, some dogs do have heartworm and need to be given heartworm medication. The type of heartworm your dog has will determine how much he or she needs. Some dogs will only need to be treated once, while others will need to be treated several times a year.
Your veterinarian will prescribe heartworm pills for your dog based on his or her age, breed, and general health. Your dog’s weight, activity level, and risk factors are also taken into consideration. The type of heartworm treatment your dog needs depends on the type of heartworm he or she is infected with. Some dogs will get better from a preventative treatment, while others may need treatment if they have contracted a worm already. The older your dog is when diagnosed with heartworm, the more treatment will be required.
Treating heartworm isn’t just about administering pills. Your veterinarian will administer medicines as well as heartworm tests called heartgard. The test involves looking at the dog’s blood with an electrocardiogram. He or she will look for any abnormalities in the heart’s arteries. Once the heart enlarges due to the build up of internal antigens, which is what causes the symptoms of heartworm, your dog’s heart will begin to function more like it used to.
The treatment usually takes place over four to six weeks. It can take longer if your dog has numerous symptoms. During the course of treatment, your dog’s diet is changed to restrict growth of heartworm. The dog’s anal glands will be flushed out and they will be gently encouraged to use the bathroom outside. Interruptions in heartworm treatment can be severely disruptive to your dog’s overall health. You dog’s heart and liver will suffer if there isn’t a complete and successful recovery from heartworm.
If you think your dog does need heartworm treatment, you should consult with your vet before taking any drastic measures. Keep in mind that heartworms can be fatal if they are left untreated. Your dog’s immune system will not be able to fight off the infection on its own. Even with the best care, your dog’s chances of survival drop dramatically if he or she is not given the appropriate treatment. Make sure that you are providing your dog with the heartworm preventative medications as well as heartworm pills. Proper treatment can save your dog’s life.