Did you know that heartworms can live in your dog for as long as 7 years?
The heartworm life cycle in dogs is a long journey that can eventually lead to serious lung disease, damaged organs, heart failure, and death. The vicious cycle begins with a mosquito bite. If that mosquito is infected by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis, it will pass it along to your dog. The heartworms mature and eventually release their offspring (called microfilariae) into the dog’s bloodstream.
It’s obvious there are serious reasons for treating and preventing heartworms in dogs. This post will help you better understand the heartworm life cycle and the need to stop it in its tracks before it seriously affects your dog’s health.
Why do Heartworms Make Dogs so Tired?
Dogs may not show any signs of having heartworms for up to six months or more. Eventually, you dog may begin coughing and you may notice some weight loss. Your normally active dog suddenly stops playing and may not have an appetite. The reason for this is because as the worms grow they begin to invade the heart and other organs. This compromises the effectiveness of how the organs work causing your dog’s body to work very hard.
As the worms grow, your dog may become tired easily and unable to play like he/she used to. The reason for that is because heartworm infections slowly destroy the heart muscle and arteries leading to the lungs.
As these organs waste away, it’s harder and harder for your dog to get the oxygen needed for energy.
Read about heartworm prevention written by the American Heartworm Society.
Can Heartworms in Dogs be Cured?
Heartworms in dogs can be treated; however, prevention is the best plan. In order to actually kill adult heartworms in dogs, an FDA approved drug known as melarsomine dihydrochloride is administered through an injection into the dog’s back muscles. Microfilaraie in the dog’s bloodstream can be treated with Advantage Multi for Dogs.
Treating heartworms in dogs is a long process. Medications might kill the mature adult worm, but it will do nothing to the growing larvae waiting for their chance to thrive. The first thing you want to do is get your dog to a veterinarian. Yes, there are over-the-counter worm medications for dogs, but most only cover the basics (roundworm, whipworm, hookworm).
How Long Will I Need to Give My Dog Heartworm Preventatives
It takes six months for the parasite to mature from larvae to adult and by then, your dog may have been re-infected with further mosquito bites. Heartworms can actually live inside your dog for up to 7 years! Every time your dog is bitten by a mosquito, a whole new heartworm life cycle is started. For that reason, it’s important to maintain heartworm prevention on a year-round basis.
By giving regular, continuous heartworm medications, you can be sure to get the entire infestation while stopping further ones from taking hold.
Are Heartworm Medications Safe for my Dog?
Federally approved heartworm medications that are prescribed by a licensed veterinarian are safe.
All medications (whether it’s our own prescriptions or prescriptions for our dogs) carry risk of side-effects. Generally speaking, these side-effects are usually mild and are not nearly as dangerous as the infestation.
Heartworms are the danger here. If allowed to advance, heartworms can cause a life-threatening emergency known as caval syndrome. Caval syndrome defines the stages of cardiovascular collapse in dogs. Symptoms include:
- Heavy breathing
- Pale gums
- Dark, bloody urine
Chances of survival at this stage are slim.
There MUST be Natural Ways to Get Rid of Heartworm in Dogs!
No matter what anybody tells you, homeopathic options are not the way to go. Alternative or all natural worming methods have existed for centuries and, in some cases, they have shown to be a least partially effective.
Heartworms, however, don’t live in the digestive system where something like diatomaceous earth could potentially aid in killing parasites. They don’t live in the dog’s fur or in the uppermost layers of skin either. There is no way for a natural remedy to penetrate the heart muscle and arteries.
READ ABOUT THIS HEARTWORM MEDICATION FOR DOGS NEXT: Trifexis for Dogs – Everything You Should Know.
At The End of The Day…
It’s really important to get on top of the heartworm life cycle in dogs with an oral or topical solution prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. Anyone who loves their dogs worries about side-effects, so talk to the doctor and ask questions. Every medication has side-effects, even that Tylenol you take has side effects. Try to remember that the heartworm life cycle is much riskier than FDA approved meds.
At the end of the day, you dog’s safety is on the line. By administering regular doses of an approved drug, you can keep your dog happy and healthy for years to come.
I hope you were able to get some useful information from this post and I welcome your thoughts on the topic. I realize this is very controversial for many, but thought it was important to state the truth as I see it. Please feel free to comment below or contact me directly at [email protected]
Before you go…learn more about heartworms in dogs and read: Crucial Signs of Heartworms in Dogs Every Pet Parent Should Know
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