How To Get Rid Of Heart Worms
If you own a pet, and more specifically, a dog, then you might be doing a search for how to get rid of heart worms. You’re not alone in your quest! This is a pretty common problem and we know that it places a great deal of stress on your life. The very thought of parasites growing in the heart of your animal can strike fear into yours. It’s a feeling that can only be described as frightening and heartbreaking.
The good news is that it’s not all doom and gloom. Mosquitos will always be a pest determined to bite us, along with our animals. We have little to no control over that. When you consider that mosquitos are the source of the problem, it can seem like an unwinnable war at times. These flying insects are what bite your dog and initiate the heart worm infection. Your dog is what’s referred to as an uninfected host (before it gets bitten and infected).
Once bit by an infected mosquito, very tiny (and we mean tiny) organisms will enter your dog through the bite. This is what gets the ball rolling on a potentially life threatening virus. If left untreated, death will likely be the end result. Heart worms are destructive parasites that will never leave on their own.
Time will not heal this problem, it will only allow it to get worst. There are five different stages heart worms progress through (from start to finish). The 5-stage process will cycle continuously. To put an end to that, treatment is necessary. If all of that sounds pretty scary, we’re going to prove that you have more control than you might think. The symptoms and types of heart worms, how to diagnose heart worms, and the best treatment and care for getting rid of heart worms will all be discussed in enough depth to bring about positive results.
If you’re wondering why we aren’t discussing heart worms in cats, it’s because it’s not nearly as common. Heart worms, by their design, can only really thrive in dogs. The possibility exists for the parasite to be transferred to cats. On rare occasions, it does in deed happen. As a general rule though, even if that happens, the heart worms will struggle greatly to reach the heart of your cat. This is not the case when they infect dogs. Cats are far more resistant and even if the heart worm manages to reach the heart, it won’t survive very long.
It will also be unable to reproduce inside the cat. There is a huge difference between what the infection can (and will do) in dogs and cats. Statistically, for every 10 dogs that develop heart worms, 1 cat will also become infected. Your cat would also need to be bit by a mosquito to contract the infection. This makes it even less likely since most pet owners will keep their cats in doors. Dogs on the other hand will spend a considerable amount of time outside of the house. We will touch on cats, but it’s far more likely to be a problem for dogs.
If your dog doesn’t live an active life, and many don’t, then it can be very difficult to detect the symptoms. Either way, there are three classes of symptoms. If your dog is suffering from Class 1, there won’t be any visible symptoms (in most cases). We say that because some dogs might come down with a minor cough. If that happens, it’s not a bad idea to take your dog to the veterinarian.
Even if the cough turns out to be nothing, you’ll have that peace of mind that comes from knowing that it’s not heart worms. Class 2 on the other hand will result in more visible symptoms. Moderate to severe coughing is likely. Your dog will do everything in his/her power to stay inactive. Class 3 is the most severe and can result in right-sided congestive heart failure.
Before that happens, your dog will progress from Class 2 and symptoms of anemia are one of the big signs indicating the crossover. Your dog might also faint without any type of advance warning. Cats on the other hand will develop coughing (similar to dogs) along with other symptoms like vomiting and trouble breathing. Your cat might be unwilling to eat which causes him/her to lose weight.
Fainting is possible and even blindness (along with sudden death) can all result in cats. Death will typically only occur if it’s not diagnosed. Due to heart worms being so rare in cats, even the best veterinarian can miss it. The root cause almost always turns out to be something else with cats.
If you suspect heart worms in your dog or cat, then you need to make an appointment with the veterinarian. Only a professional can make an accurate diagnosis. One of the tools they will use is called an electrocardiograph. If you’re wondering what that is, it’s simply a tool (and a sophisticated one at that) for monitoring the electrical activity in the myocardium. This allows the veterinarian to detect changes in the heart. If the rhythm of the heart isn’t normal, or the right side of the heart has become enlarged, it can provide all the vet needs to know to make an accurate diagnosis.
The veterinarian might also run a urine test along with other serologic tests for a more definitive diagnosis. The advice up to this point is geared towards dogs. Cats will also need a full examination. This includes a complete blood workup, antigen/antibody tests, x-rays, and even a more enhanced test known as echocardiography.
Treatment comes after a full examination by your veterinarian. Your dog or cat won’t be administered any drugs before that happens. For dogs, the number of heart worms present in the dog, their location, and any other medical issues will determine the course of treatment. If your dog isn’t suffering with other complications (besides heart worms), the goal will be to eliminate all the adult worms. Preventing new worms from developing will commence after that. Caparsolate and Immiticide are the two popular drugs for dogs.
The difference between the two is that Caparsolate is administered over 48 hours (2 times per day) through IV. Immiticide has been proven to be more effective. It will kill over 90% of the worms. If your dog is critically ill, the worms will have to be surgically removed. Cats are treated with one of four popular drugs: Heartgard, Interceptor, Revolution, or Advantage Multi. Each is very effective and your veterinarian will be able to zero in on the best drug.